January 9, 2015

Does fish oil help prevent A-fib?

Growing evidence suggests that fish oil, thought to directly prevent inflammation, oxidative stress and heart disease, may have limited clinical utility.

by Matthew Correia


Atrial fibrillation, AF, is one of the most common causes of cardiac disease in the United States with existing research pointing to inflammation being critical in its pathogenesis. And fish oil, composed primarily of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), is thought to directly prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, and atrial remodeling.

In the Jan. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, Leon Darghosian, M.D., C. Michael Stein, M.B.Ch.B., and colleagues investigated the effect of high dose n-3 PUFAs – as an adjuvant to a patient’s existing antiarrhythmic regimen – on the recurrence of AF. They also examined the effects of n-3 PUFAs on oxidative and inflammatory markers, including F2IsoP and IL6, respectively.

Not only did their results reveal that a high-dose n-3 PUFA regimen failed to reduce the frequency of AF, they discovered that there was no significant reduction in the studied inflammatory and oxidative markers.

The study adds growing evidence that fish oils, once viewed as a holy grail in cardiovascular medicine, are limited in their clinical utility.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL087254, TR000445).

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