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Fish Oil Supplements May Increase Baseline Risk

A fish oil supplement over a glass of water.Share on Pinterest
Experts say research on the benefits of fish oil supplements has been mixed. Postscriptum/Stocksy Duet
  • Fish oil is widely used to help reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • Researchers say they have found an association between fish oil supplements and increased heart risk among people without diagnosed cardiovascular disease..
  • Experts say supplement use may need to be tailored more individually.

Fish oil, a source of omega-3 fatty acids commonly used to reduce cardiovascular risk, may actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke among people who have good cardiovascular health.

Researchers in China say they have found an association between fish oil supplement use and increased cardiovascular risk among people with healthy hearts, even as the study showed benefits of the supplements for those with poor cardiovascular health.

“These findings indicate that fish oil recommendation should be more selective and tailored to individual patient profiles,” said Dr. Adedapo Adeyinka Iluyomade, a preventive cardiologist at Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Florida, who was not involved. on the research. .

“Fish oil may be more beneficial for patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease than for primary prevention in the general population,” he said. Medical news today.

The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Medicinewas drawn from data from 415,737 people in the UK Biobank, about a third of whom took fish oil supplements.

Researchers reported that people without known cardiovascular disease who took fish oil supplements regularly had a 13% higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation and a 5% higher risk of having a stroke than those who had good heart health but did not use fish oil.

However, the researchers added that people who had cardiovascular disease and used fish oil supplements had a 15% lower risk of progressing from atrial fibrillation to a heart attack and a 9% lower risk of progressing from heart failure to death.

The risk of going from good health to heart attack, stroke or heart failure was 6% higher among women taking fish oil and 6% higher among non-smokers. The protective effect of fish oil on the transition from good health to death was greater in men and older study participants.

“Regular use of fish oil supplements could play different roles in the progression of cardiovascular disease,” the study authors wrote.

Iluyomade noted that fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are widely used to reduce cardiovascular risk.

“Many patients take them as primary or secondary prevention of heart disease based on the belief that they have cardiovascular benefits,” he said. “This use is based on the idea that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and can help improve lipid profiles.”

“Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation,” said Dr. Rohit Vuppuluri, a cardiologist at Drs. Sawlani and Sukenik Group in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. “However, when fish oil is recommended for medical treatment, it should be consumed with prescription fish oil rather than over-the-counter fish oil. This ensures that the fish oil is of medical quality.”

“Eating salmon regularly is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids,” Vuppuluri said. Medical news today.

Like the current study, previous research on the benefits of fish oil has been mixed.

“While some studies and meta-analyses have suggested benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death, others have shown little or no impact on overall cardiovascular mortality,” Iluyomade said.

“This study is very interesting and the findings deserve further exploration, but I still recommend that patients consume at least 500 mg (of) omega-3s per day, whether by eating fatty fish, taking an omega-3 supplement or a combination of the two,” said Elana Natker, registered dietitian and director of consumer and health professional communications for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3, an industry trade group.

“While this study was conducted in a large population, it was observational in nature with potential confounders and no consideration of dosage,” said Natker, who was not involved in the research. Medical news today. “Meta-analyses of human clinical trials have found statistically significant reductions in heart attacks and deaths from heart attacks and coronary heart disease.”

The study authors wrote that “further studies are needed to determine the precise mechanisms for the development and prognosis of cardiovascular disease events with regular use of fish oil supplements.”

Natker said human clinical studies are needed to suggest a causal relationship between omega-3s and atrial fibrillation.

“While concerns have been raised about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation, little or no increase has been seen with daily doses of less than one gram,” he said.

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