Recurrences of atrial fibrillation are not prevented by prescription supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, claim scientists.
Although some data have suggested that omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as from fish oil, may improve treatment of atrial fibrillation, a randomized trial with more than 600 patients finds that treatment with high-dose prescription omega-3 did not reduce the recurrence of atrial fibrillation over six months.
Peter R. Kowey, of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Wynnewood, Pa., and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy of a pure prescription formulation of omega-3 fatty acids (prescription omega-3), at a dose considerably higher than what has been tested in previous trials, for preventing recurrent atrial fibrillation.
After 6 months of follow-up, the researchers found that in the paroxysmal group, there were 129 documented symptomatic AF or flutter (abnormal, rapid heart beat) events (48 percent) in the placebo group and 135 (52 percent) in the prescription group. In the persistent AF group, there were 18 documented symptomatic AF or flutter events (33 percent) in the placebo group and 32 (50 percent) in the prescription group, while in the 2 groups combined there were 147 events (46 percent) in the placebo group and 167 (52 percent) in the prescription group.
None of the secondary efficacy end points, including first recurrence of AF or flutter in the persistent group and both groups combined, reached statistical significance. Sixteen participants (5 percent) taking placebo, and 12 (4 percent) taking prescription omega-3 discontinued study medication due to an adverse event.
"In this population of patients with symptomatic paroxysmal AF or persistent AF, and no evidence of substantial structural heart disease, prescription omega-3 did not show evidence of reducing the recurrence of symptomatic atrial fibrillation," the authors said.
The study will appear in the December 1 issue of JAMA.