By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Might 3, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Many individuals take fish oil to guard their heart, however a brand new research means that prescription variations could increase the danger of a standard coronary heart rhythm dysfunction.

At problem are prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acids, that are naturally present in fish oil. The medicines are sometimes prescribed to folks with very excessive triglycerides, a sort of blood fats linked to elevated threat of heart attack and stroke.

In keeping with the American Coronary heart Affiliation, prescription omega-3s can decrease triglycerides by 20% to 30% in most individuals.

However the medicines 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. Total, trial sufferers given omega-3s have been over one-third extra more likely 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.

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A-fib is a standard coronary heart rhythm dysfunction, or arrhythmia, by which the center’s higher chambers start to quiver chaotically as a substitute of contracting successfully.

A-fib is just not instantly life-threatening, but it surely’s “not benign,” both, mentioned Dave Dixon, one of many researchers on the research and an affiliate professor at Virginia Commonwealth College (VCU), in Richmond.

Over time, Dixon mentioned, a-fib can result in issues like heart failure or stroke.

Precisely how prescription-strength omega-3 might contribute to a-fib is unclear, in line with Dixon.

Nevertheless, the elevated threat was pretty constant throughout the trials — extra constant, the truth is, 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 circumstances amongst omega-3 sufferers than placebo sufferers, although the distinction in threat was not statistically vital in all research.

However when the researchers pooled the outcomes of all 5 trials, there was a transparent outcome: Omega-3 sufferers have been 37% extra more likely to develop a-fib than placebo sufferers have been.

In distinction, just one trial confirmed that an omega-3 product might lower the dangers of different coronary heart situations.

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In that trial, dubbed REDUCE-IT, sufferers utilizing a product known as Vascepa (icosapent ethyl) noticed their threat of “cardiovascular occasions” drop by 25%. That included coronary heart assault, stroke and demise 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? Once more, it is not but clear, Dixon mentioned.

However, he added, Vascepa is totally different from the fish oil merchandise examined within the different trials. It incorporates just one omega-3, known as EPA, whereas the opposite merchandise comprise a mixture of EPA and DHA.

And within the REDUCE-IT trial, Dixon mentioned, larger ranges of EPA in sufferers’ blood correlated to decrease cardiovascular dangers.

That hints, he mentioned, that specializing in EPA may be “the way in which to go sooner or later.” However 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 Coronary heart Journal — Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

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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 College Feinberg College of Drugs, in Chicago.

And that features low-dose, over-the-counter fish oil dietary supplements.

“There are restricted and inconsistent information relating to the profit or threat of taking fish oil dietary 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, akin to 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. However Carbone mentioned he can be cautious about over-the-counter fish oil dietary supplements, too.

“We do not know if over-the-counter merchandise might have these similar results,” he mentioned.

Over-the-counter fish oil is taken into account a dietary complement, so it isn’t regulated by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration as a drug can be, Dixon identified.

Each he and Carbone mentioned it is best to speak to a health care provider or pharmacist earlier than beginning any fish oil product and that individuals on prescription omega-3s ought to communicate with their physician earlier than stopping.

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Extra data

Harvard Medical College has extra on fish oil and heart health.

SOURCES: Salvatore Carbone, PhD, assistant professor, kinesiology and well being sciences, Virginia Commonwealth College, Richmond, Va.; Dave L. Dixon, PharmD, affiliate professor, ambulatory care, and vice-chair, scientific companies, division of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science, Virginia Commonwealth College, Richmond, Va.; Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor and chief, diet division, division of preventive drugs, Northwestern College Feinberg College of Drugs, Chicago, and member, Diet Committee, American Coronary heart Affiliation, Dallas; European Coronary heart Journal—Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, April 29, 2021, on-line

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