Angina PectorisHeart DiseaseOmega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 in patients with coronary heart disease

 Researchers from Peking University People’s Hospital in Beijing reviewed studies concerning the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of dying in patients with coronary heart disease.

First, the details.

  • 8 studies of 20,997 patients were reviewed.
  • They included studies that compared dietary or supplementary intake of omega-3 fatty acids vs control diet or placebo in patients with coronary heart disease.
  • Each study had at least 6 months of follow-up data, and cited sudden cardiac death — death resulting from total, irreversible loss of heartbeat and respiration — as an end-point.
  • A meta-analysis of relative risk was carried out.

And, the results.

  • In patients with a prior heart attack, omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the risk of sudden cardiac death.
  • But in patients with angina, omega-3 fatty acids increased the risk of sudden cardiac death.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduces the incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients with heart attack.”

But it may have “adverse effects in angina patients.”

An earlier study, discussed in this BBC article, reported that men with angina given high amounts of oily fish were at a greater risk of heart attack.

Dr. Eric Brunner from the Royal Free and University College London Medical School suggests, “It may be wise to make a distinction between patients with chronic disease such as angina and those with acute myocardial infarction, since in the latter the evidence does support early protection against sudden death.

Like all drugs (herbals), correct patient selection is the first step to success.

1/17/09 20:18 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.