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Treatment with omega-3 fatty acids may be not effective for cardiovascular patients

Published on

14 May 2013

A supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids does not seem to reduce cardiovascular mortality and morbidity of patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, suggests a new study from Italy.

In the randomized controlled trial, 12,513 patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors or atherosclerotic vascular disease (but not myocardial infarction) received daily omega-3 fatty acids (1 g fish oil including eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) or placebo for an average of 5 years (1). The study results showed neither greater reduction of mortality risk due to cardiovascular events nor a reduction in the risk of developing further cardiovascular complications among the omega-3 group compared with the placebo group.

The researchers conceded that all participants received pharmaceutical treatment (e.g., with ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, diuretic agents, calcium-channel blockers, beta-blockers, oral hypoglycemic drugs, insulin, statins and antiplatelet agents), which makes the ability to measure (additional) benefits of omega-3 fatty acids less evident. Moreover, a number of participants had already reported fish in their diets (43% consumed fish once a week, 27% consumed fish twice a week). Omega-3 fatty acid blood levels were not measured. Experts commented the publicly available scientific data taken altogether does demonstrate a cardiovascular benefit of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in healthy populations, as well as in the majority of populations with pre-existing cardiovascular ailments; thus, the new results cannot be generalized.


  1. The Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group. n–3 Fatty Acids in Patients with Multiple Cardiovascular Risk Factors. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368:1800-1808.

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