The American Heart Association recently released a scientific position statement in Circulation regarding the reasonable benefits of supplementation with marine based omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for secondary prevention in cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The advisory board evaluated evidence from numerous randomized clinical trials (RCTs) related to the use of omega-3 PUFA supplements to reduce the risk of clinical CVD.  Clinical CVD, for this position statement, was determined to include the following disease states: coronary heart disease (CHD), atrial fibrillation (AF), sudden cardiac death (SCD), heart failure (HF), stroke and myocardial infarct (MI).  The advisory board’s main conclusion was that treatment with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with recent MI is reasonable to prevent CHD death.

The findings from the advisory board included:

  • Based on the recent results from the GISSI-HF study, there are reasonable benefits with omega-3  treatment for patients with HF, reduced ejection fraction (EF) due to the observed reductions on overall mortality and hospitalizations for CVD
  • Reasonable benefits with omega-3 treatment for hypercholesterolemia

While the advisory group did support the reasonable benefits of omega-3 treatment in HF, they also urged that more trials are needed “to determine whether the benefits of omega-3 PUFA supplementation on prognosis vary according to the type, severity, and cause of heart failure.” HF is a heterogeneous disease mostly found in women and older adults.

The position statement  further noted that there have been no RCTs designed to assess omega-3s for prevention of HF, AF, MI or recurrent stroke, so no recommendation was made in this position statement regarding use of omega-3 supplementation as a preventive measure in these disease states.

Why is this clinically relevant?

  • In patients with prior history of MI, fish oil supplementation may reduce subsequent HF related hospitalizations and cardiovascular death, particularly in those patients with reduced EF


Science Advisory from the American Heart Association: Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease

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