Researchers from across Italy, the GISSI (Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Streptochinasi nell’Infarto Miocardico) investigators, report that omega-3 fatty acids improved morbidity and mortality in patients with symptomatic heart failure.

First, the details.

  • More than 6500 patients with chronic heart failure participated in the study.
    • They had mild to severe heart failure based on New York Heart Association classification.
  • The patients were randomly assigned to take omega-3 fatty acids (1 gram daily) or placebo and followed for about 4 years.
  • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

And, the results.

  • 27% of the omega-3 patients and 29% in the placebo group died — a significant difference.
  • 57% of the omega-3 patients and 59% of the placebo group died or were admitted to a hospital for cardiovascular reasons — a significant difference.
  • In both groups, gastrointestinal disorders were the most frequent adverse reaction — 3 in each group.

The bottom line?

The reserchers calculated that 56 patients needed to be treated for 4 years to avoid one death or 44 to avoid one event like death or admission to [the] hospital for cardiovascular reasons.

They concluded, “A simple and safe treatment with omega-3 fatty acids can provide a small beneficial advantage in terms of mortality and admission to hospital for cardiovascular reasons in patients with heart failure in a context of usual care.”

A second study of rosuvastatin (Crestor) in similar patients by the same researchers showed no advantage.

9/3/08 18:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.