help heart failure, hurt your heart, heart protection, leaky heart valve

For years, Americans have been taking fish oil and other types of omega-3 supplements. Their goal was heart protection, but it seems that expectation is unrealistic.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Protection:

The hope was that these long-chain fatty acids would lower cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce the likelihood of arterial plaque and heart attacks. The American Heart Association even recommended that heart patients eat fish or take fish oil. The scientists based that recommendation on the best available evidence at the time, early in 2017.

Now, a new meta-analysis has thrown the heart protection provided by omega-3 supplements into question (Aung et al, JAMA Cardiology, online January 31, 2018). It evaluated 10 randomized clinical trials including almost 78,000 people at high risk of heart attacks or strokes. The participants were randomly assigned to get placebo pills or supplements with omega-3 fats.

The Envelope, Please:

The results show no difference in the rate of heart attack deaths and strokes whether people took placebo or fish oil.

According to the investigators,

“It [the study] provides no support for current recommendations for the use of such supplements in people with a history of coronary heart disease.”

They doubt that fish oil pills will provide much, if any, heart protection. It is important to remember that the study did not address the question of including fish in the diet, as most heart experts recommend.

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  1. Mick

    From what I’ve read, if these people were at high risk from a high Omega-6 fat and sugar diet, a fish oil pill from a drug store, usually 30% Omega -3 will not have much effect. I wonder if the studies used purer fish oil with the fattest meal of the day and maybe an oil soluble vitamin with it in sufficient amounts.

  2. Ellen

    I recently listened to your podcast of Dr. Barry Sears talking about the Mediterranean diet. In it he talked about the benefits of ENOUGH omega-3 fatty acids such as found in fish oil. He emphasized that you have to take 2 grams a day in order to get the benefits. You do not say the amounts of fish oil that were taken in these studies. It makes a difference.

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