MONDAY, May 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Many individuals take fish oil to guard their heart, however a brand new research means that prescription variations could elevate the chance of a standard coronary heart rhythm dysfunction.
At difficulty are prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acids, that are naturally present in fish oil. The drugs are sometimes prescribed to individuals with very excessive triglycerides, a kind of blood fats linked to elevated threat of heart attack and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, prescription omega-3s can decrease triglycerides by 20% to 30% in most individuals.
But the drugs are additionally controversial, as a result of their final advantages for the center are unclear.
Now the brand new research — an evaluation of 5 previous clinical trials — suggests warning is so as. Overall, trial sufferers given omega-3s have been over one-third extra prone to develop atrial fibrillation (a-fib) than these given a placebo. The fish oil doses taken ranged from 0.84 grams to 4 grams per day.
A-fib is a standard coronary heart rhythm dysfunction, or arrhythmia, wherein the center’s higher chambers start to quiver chaotically as a substitute of contracting successfully.
A-fib just isn’t instantly life-threatening, nevertheless it’s “not benign,” both, mentioned Dave Dixon, one of many researchers on the research and an affiliate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), in Richmond.
Over time, Dixon mentioned, a-fib can result in problems like heart failure or stroke.
Exactly how prescription-strength omega-3 might contribute to a-fib is unclear, in keeping with Dixon.
However, the elevated threat was pretty constant throughout the trials — extra constant, in reality, than coronary heart advantages have been, mentioned co-researcher Salvatore Carbone, an assistant professor at VCU.
In all 5 trials, there have been extra a-fib instances amongst omega-3 sufferers than placebo sufferers, although the distinction in threat was not statistically vital in all research.
But when the researchers pooled the outcomes of all 5 trials, there was a transparent consequence: Omega-3 sufferers have been 37% extra prone to develop a-fib than placebo sufferers have been.
In distinction, just one trial confirmed that an omega-3 product might reduce the dangers of different coronary heart situations.
In that trial, dubbed REDUCE-IT, sufferers utilizing a product known as Vascepa (icosapent ethyl) noticed their threat of “cardiovascular events” drop by 25%. That included coronary heart assault, stroke and dying from cardiovascular causes.
Even in that research, although, a-fib threat rose amongst omega-3 customers, by 35%.
Why has just one trial discovered coronary heart advantages? Again, it is not but clear, Dixon mentioned.
But, he added, Vascepa is completely different from the fish oil merchandise examined within the different trials. It comprises just one omega-3, known as EPA, whereas the opposite merchandise include a mix of EPA and DHA.
And within the REDUCE-IT trial, Dixon mentioned, increased ranges of EPA in sufferers’ blood correlated to decrease cardiovascular dangers.
That hints, he mentioned, that specializing in EPA is likely to be “the way to go in the future.” But the conflicting findings on the advantages of omega-3s — together with the potential threat of a-fib — spotlight the necessity for extra research, the researchers mentioned.
The evaluation was revealed April 29 within the European Heart Journal — Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.
Findings on the center advantages of fish oil have certainly been “inconsistent,” mentioned Linda Van Horn, a member of the center affiliation’s diet committee and a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.
And that features low-dose, over-the-counter fish oil dietary supplements.
“There are limited and inconsistent data regarding the benefit or risk of taking fish oil supplements,” Van Horn mentioned.
So the center affiliation recommends consuming two servings of fish per week as a substitute. Van Horn mentioned that fatty fish, resembling salmon, trout, albacore tuna and herring, are one of the best sources of omega-3s.
The trials within the present evaluation examined prescription-strength omega-3s. But Carbone mentioned he can be cautious about over-the-counter fish oil dietary supplements, too.
“We don’t know if over-the-counter products could have these same effects,” he mentioned.
Over-the-counter fish oil is taken into account a dietary complement, so it’s not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a drug can be, Dixon identified.
Both he and Carbone mentioned it is best to speak to a physician or pharmacist earlier than beginning any fish oil product — and that folks on prescription omega-3s ought to communicate with their physician earlier than stopping.
Harvard Medical School has extra on fish oil and heart health.
SOURCES: Salvatore Carbone, PhD, assistant professor, kinesiology and well being sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; Dave L. Dixon, PharmD, affiliate professor, ambulatory care, and vice-chair, medical providers, division of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor and chief, diet division, division of preventive medication, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and member, Nutrition Committee, American Heart Association, Dallas; European Heart Journal—Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, April 29, 2021, on-line