Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Omega-3 v atrial fibrillation.

Previous research has shown mixed results for omega-3 in atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat. Some studies reported very positive results while others reported no benefits. A large study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and reported simultaneously at the meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) in Chicago has concluded that omega-3 did not provide any benefits.

The trial took patients mainly with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (the most common kind, which occurs intermittently rather than constantly) with a smaller number who had persistent atrial fibrillation. The 663 patients were randomly assigned to either Lovaza, an approved prescription omega-3 supplement, or to a placebo of corn oil.

Those on Lovaza took 8 one gram capsules a day for 7 days, then went to 4 capsules per day for the rest of the 24 week study.  These capsules provide a mix of DHA and EPA.  The placebo group took a matching number of 1 gram capsules of the corn oil.

The omega-3 group showed a number of blood changes that should be associated with various health improvements, but the study failed to find any significant improvements in any of the outcomes the trial was testing.

The researchers summarised both the previous research that had returned positive findings and those that had found no effect. They suggested a number of reasons why the current study might have returned no effect, which obviously includes the option that omega-3 simply has no effect on atrial fibrillation.

However, studies returning a positive finding typically used much lower doses than those in the current study. While the team reported the following “In our study, nearly half the events occurred during the first 2 weeks of follow-up, suggesting that fish oil may not have rapid effects, even with high-loading doses.” Or perhaps it suggests that high dose omega-3 triggers an impending atrial fibrillation event, then lower doses go on to cut the rate for the remaining 22 weeks. (Lovaza is currently used at 4 by 1 gram capsules per day to lower high triglycerides.)

The report concluded “In this population of patients with symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation or persistent atrial fibrillation, and no evidence of substantial structural heart disease, prescription omega-3 did not show evidence of reducing the recurrence of symptomatic atrial fibrillation.


November 15, 2010 - Posted by | Atrial fibrillation, Lovaza - omega-3, Omega-3, Success

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