Fish Oil Supplements Only Helpful After Heart Attack, Heart Failure – AHA

Today, a stupendous number of people take fish oil supplements for a fit body, healthy heart and overall well-being. But a new science advisory from American Heart Association (AHA) suggests it’s only helpful for certain people, and not everyone may benefit.

Prescribing omega-3 fish oil supplements is reasonable to help prevent heart disease mortality in patients who recently had a heart attack and may prevent death and hospitalizations in patients with heart failure, but there is no scientific data available to support clinical use of fish oil pills to prevent heart disease in the general population, according to the new AHA recommendations.

Fish oil supplements may help prolong the lives of heart attack survivors and patients with chronic heart failure, but cannot be recommended for preventing heart problems in the first place, the heart association affirmed.

“We cannot make a recommendation to use omega-3 fish oil supplements for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease at this time,” stated advisory committee chair David S. Siscovick, M.D., M.P.H., of the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City.

“People in the general population who are taking omega-3 fish oil supplements are taking them in the absence of scientific data that shows any benefit of the supplements in preventing heart attacks, stroke, heart failure or death for people who do not have a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease,” Siscovick said.

The AHA report is based on a review of 15 randomized clinical trials, including two studies released before 2002 and 13 conducted after 2002, that tested the effects of fish oil supplements on heart health. The studies extensively assessed the clinical impact of omega-3 fish oil supplements on CVD outcomes such as heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and other heart conditions.

“Scientific findings from the past two decades that focused on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases continue to show that among people who are at risk of dying from heart disease, the potential benefit of omega-3 fish oil supplements is still useful for people who have had a recent heart attack, which is consistent with the 2002 statement,” Siscovick said.

“What is new is that people with heart failure also may benefit from omega-3 fish oil supplements,” Siscovick said.

The AHA advisory concludes that physicians should use the current recommendations as a guide to make decisions on whether omega-3 fish oil supplements might be suitable for some patients. It stresses that supplementation with omega-3 fish oil may provide some benefits to patients with certain, clinical, CVD outcomes, including a recent prior heart attack and heart failure.

The new report was published online March 13 in the journal Circulation.