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Omega-3: ineffective in preventing cardiovascular events

Omega-3 supplements have no proven efficacy in reducing the risk of a new cardiovascular event.

There is limited but converging evidence that a Mediterranean diet seems beneficial for patients who have already suffered a cardiovascular event.

However there is no evidence of the effectiveness of specific omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplements, as was confirmed by the publication in 2012 of a review of 14 trials involving over 20,000 patients.

Omega-3 supplements were generally given in the form of fish oil capsules. The average age of the patients was 63 and they were given the supplement for at least one year.

After monitoring the patients for an average of 2 years, it was found that omega 3 supplements had neither reduced the overall mortality, nor the frequency of myocardial infarction and other cardiac and cerebrovascular diseases.

But omega-3 does increase the risk of bleeding.

Omega-3 supplements have no proven efficacy in preventing cardiovascular events in patients with a cardiovascular history, but does expose them to adverse effects. It is better to follow a more varied Mediterranean-type diet.

©Prescrire 1 September 2013

"Secondary cardiovascular prevention: omega-3 fatty acids ineffective" Prescrire Int 2013; 22 (141): 218. (Pdf, subscribers only).

Download the full review.
Pdf, subscribers only

See also:

Omega-3 and cancer
or dementia: no
preventive effect
Prescrire Int 2007;
16 (89): 122.
Pdf, subscribers only

Omega-3 polyunsaturated
fatty acids for secondary
cardiovascular prevention
Prescrire Int 2006;
15 (84): 147.
Pdf, subscribers only