- There is a lack of research to support the clinical use of fish oil supplements for patients with heart disease.
- Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help prevent death from heart disease in patients who recently had a heart attack.
- New evidence suggests that a low dose of omega-3 fish oil supplements reduced death and hospitalization by 9 percent in patients with heart failure.
Omega-3 fish oil supplements help in brain function and most importantly help control blood lipid levels which protects the heart from diseases.
The supplements prescribed by a healthcare provider may help prevent death from heart disease in patients who recently had a heart attack and may prevent death and hospitalizations in patients with heart failure.
‘People in the general population take omega-3 fish oil supplements since they exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and reduce the risk of heart disease, even though there is absence of scientific data.’
But there is a lack of scientific research to support clinical use of these supplements to prevent heart disease in the general population, according to a new science advisory from the American Heart Association.
"We cannot make a recommendation to use omega-3 fish oil supplements for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease at this time," said David Siscovick, chair of the writing committee of the new science advisory published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Previous Evidence on Fish oil Omega-3 Fats
Fish oil contains EPA (Ecosapentanoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexanoic acid) which reduce inflammation and the diseases related to it.
Fish oil Reduces Risk of Heart Failure
- Studies have indicated that consuming fish or fish oil at doses higher than 3gm per day reduced cardiovascular disease risk by decreasing blood pressure, platelet aggregation, and inflammation.
- Increasing the dietary intake of EPA and DHA through consumption of fatty fish or fish-oil supplements helped reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases that involve inflammatory processes viz. cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat oily fish twice per week and that those with coronary heart disease eat 1gm per day of EPA + DHA from oily fish or supplements.
The advisory's writing group reviewed all randomized clinical trials that evaluated a potential role for fish oil supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases, including two studies published before 2002 and 13 published since 2002, when the association last issued a scientific statement focused on fish and omega-3 fish oil supplements.
Scientific findings from the past two decades that focused on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases continue to show that among people who are at risk of dying from heart disease, the potential benefit of omega-3 fish oil supplements is still useful for people who have had a recent heart attack
, which is consistent with the 2002 statement.
"People in the general population who are taking omega-3 fish oil supplements are taking them in the absence of scientific data that shows any benefit of the supplements in preventing heart attacks, stroke, heart failure or death for people who do not have a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease," Siscovick said.
"What is new is that people with heart failure also may benefit from omega-3 fish oil supplements," Siscovick said. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot adequately pump blood.
The scientific evidence for the heart failure recommendation comes from a large, randomized, clinical trial that showed a low dose of omega-3 fish oil supplements reduced death and hospitalization by 9 percent in patients with heart failure
, which led the authors to determine that healthcare providers could consider omega-3 fish oil supplements reasonable for these patients.
Most studies used approximately 1,000 mg/day doses of omega-3 fatty acids, and the writing group concluded that treatment is reasonable in patients with a prior heart attack or heart failure based upon the studies that show modest reduction of cardiovascular events or death from coronary heart disease in the clinical study populations.
The advisory focused only on the use of omega-3 fish oil supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases and death and did not address the potential benefits of consuming fish, given the differences in dietary fish intake and omega-3 fish oil supplements.
"Physicians should use this advisory as a guide to make decisions on whether omega-3 fish oil supplements might be appropriate for some patients. The advisory concludes that supplementation with omega-3 fish oil may benefit patients with specific, clinical, cardiovascular disease indications, including patients with a recent prior heart attack and heart failure," Siscovick said.
- David S. Siscovick et al., Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association, Circulation (2017),