man with a heart attack receiving medical intervention, cardiac arrest, cardiac event, Vascepa

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine considered the effects of icosapent ethyl, a form of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA (NEJM, Nov. 10, 2018). The brand name for this drug is Vascepa.

What Did the Study Show about Vascepa?

This randomized placebo-controlled trial included more than 8,000 high-risk patients for nearly five years. These people had heart disease or diabetes and high triglycerides despite being treated with statins.

The findings in this trial called REDUCE-IT were more promising than those from the VITAL trial. About 17 percent of the volunteers taking icosapent ethyl had a heart attack, stroke, death from cardiovascular complications or hospitalization for heart procedures. In comparison, 22 percent of those on placebo suffered one of these events.

Fewer People Died:

The most important outcome of any trial is mortality. Did the treatment keep people from dying prematurely? The news here is good, if modest.

Fewer people taking Vascepa died from cardiovascular causes: 4.3 percent instead of 5.2 percent of those on placebo. The bottom line appears to be that EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid has cardioprotective activity.

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  1. John

    The study used to debunk the use of fish oil and promote Vascepa as a better alternative is bogus because in the study those taking fish oil consumed 2000 mg/day of it, while those taking Vascepa took 4000 mg/day of it. That is comparing apples to oranges, and completely without foundation as a scientific study.

  2. Ger Veilleux

    I feel that my fish oil caps keeps my triglycerides down. Though my Dr. would rather I didnt take them, but when I quit my triglycerides seem to rise even though I’m eating Salmon 3 times a week.
    The concern may be mercury though.


    I suggest that you read the articles by the SkepticalCardiologist regarding “pure” fish oils.

  4. Kevin

    You didn’t mention some important facts about the study. All participants were taking statin medications throughout the study. A serious concern has been raised by some experts about the mineral oil placebo used in the study. Mineral oil has been reported to reduce the effects of statin.

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