In a recent study published in European Heart Journal—Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, researchers found that omega-3 supplements are linked to an increased likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm problem) in people with high blood lipids.
The study is from Virginia Commonwealth University. One author is Dr. Salvatore Carbone.
Currently, fish oil supplements are indicated for patients with elevated plasma triglycerides to reduce heart disease risk.
Due to the high prevalence of elevated triglycerides in the population, they can be commonly prescribed. Of note, low-dose omega-3 fatty acids are available over the counter, without the need for a prescription.
Some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder.
People with the disorder have a five times greater likelihood of having a stroke.
In the study, the team performed a comprehensive review to answer the question of whether fish oils were consistently related to a raised risk for atrial fibrillation.
The analysis included five clinical studies about the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes.
A total of 50,277 patients received fish oils or placebo and were followed up for between 2 and 7.4 years. The dose of fish oils varied from 0.84 g to 4 g per day.
The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was linked to a much-increased risk for atrial fibrillation compared to placebo.
The study suggests that fish oil supplements are linked to a significantly greater risk of atrial fibrillation in patients at elevated cardiovascular risk.
Although one clinical trial indicated beneficial heart effects of supplementation, the risk for atrial fibrillation should be considered when the supplements are prescribed or purchased over the counter, especially in people with a higher risk of heart rhythm disorder.
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