Fish oil and vitamin D supplements cannot prevent heart rhythm disorders

In a new study, researchers found that taking omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3 supplements neither increases nor decreases the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

The research was conducted by a team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Atrial fibrillation is a rapid, irregular heartbeat caused by chaotic electrical signals in the top chambers of the heart.

It is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, and it can lead to blood clots, strokes, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.

Atrial fibrillation risk increases with age, high blood pressure, and heavy drinking and can be common among multiple, biologically related family members.

Evidence from previous studies has been conflicting, suggesting both risks and potential health benefits of fish oil – a source of omega-3 fatty acids – and vitamin D for atrial fibrillation.

In the study, the team evaluated whether supplementation with vitamin D3 (2000 IU/day) and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA:DHA in 1.2:1 ratio; 840mg/day) can reduce the risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to placebo.

The five-year study, from 2012 – 2017, included 25,119 adults, ages 50 and older who had no history of atrial fibrillation.

About half of the participants were female, 21% were black, and the average age was 67.

During the trial follow-up period, 900 participants developed atrial fibrillation, 3.6% of the study population.

There were no significant differences between the groups who were assigned to supplemental EPA/DHA and/or vitamin D3 compared to individuals who were assigned to the placebo.

With regard to clinical care, these results do not support using marine omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin D to prevent atrial fibrillation.

However, the results do provide reassurance that these supplements do not increase the overall risk of atrial fibrillation and appear to be generally safe for patients who are taking these supplements for other reasons.

One author of the study is Christine M. Albert, M.D., M.P.H.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

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