Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish are a safe and simple treatment for heart patients

Topics: Heart health, cardiovascular function, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), fish, fish oil

Objective:  To determine the impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on morbidity and mortality in patients with previous heart failure.

Background: Numerous population studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA can reduce atherothrombotic cardiovascular disease including arrhythmias. However, up to now, no large scale intervention trial has assessed the efficacy of omega-3 LC-PUFAs on prevention of heart failure in previous cardiac patients.

Method: This double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial included 6975 patients from 326 cardiology and 31 internal medicine centres in Italy with chronic heart failure classified according to the European Society of Cardiology guidelines as New York Association class II-IV. They were randomly assigned to daily take either a placebo (n= 3481) or a 1g ethyl ester fish oil concentrate (n= 3494) providing 850-882 mg of combined EPA and DHA for 3.9 years.  Two primary end points were measured:

i)               Time to death

ii)              Admission to hospital for cardiovascular reasons.

Secondary outcomes included:

iii)            Cardiovascular mortality

iv)             Cardiovascular mortality or admission for any reason

v)              Sudden cardiac death

vi)             Admission for any reason

vii)           Admission for cardiovascular reason

viii)          Admission for heart failure

ix)             Myocardial infarction

x)              Stroke

Findings: Treatment with Omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of mortality by 9% and admission to the hospital for cardiovascular causes by 8%. Only 3% of patients in each group reported side effects which were all gastrointestinal related.

Conclusion: Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish are a safe and simple treatment to reduce mortality and admission to hospital for cardiovascular reasons in patients with heart failure.

Relevance to: Efamax

Reference: GISSI-HF Investigators. Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with chronic heart failure (the GISSI-HF trial): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Aug 31, 2008. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61239-8.

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