“Combining omega-3 fatty acids and a statin* is a safe and effective way to improve lipid levels and cardiovascular prognosis beyond the benefits provided by statin therapy alone” concluded researchers in this recent Mayo Clinic Proceedings review.

First, the details.

  • The evidence supporting the heart benefits of omega-3 fatty acids comes from 3 studies of 32,000 people.
  • Participants were randomly assigned to receive omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or to act as controls.

And, the results.

  • There were reductions in cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks and stroke) of 19% to 45%.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “These findings suggest that intake of omega-3 fatty acids — whether from dietary sources or fish oil supplements — should be increased, especially in those with or at risk for coronary artery disease.” Examples are atherosclerosis (especially coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks), cerebrovascular disease (eg, stroke), and high blood pressure.

The recommended daily intake of DHA and EPA is 1 gram for people with known coronary artery disease and 500 mg for those without disease. Patients with high triglyceride blood levels benefit from 3 to 4 grams/day of DHA and EPA — a dosage that lowers triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%.

Two meals of fatty fish (eg, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon) per week provide 400 to 500 mg/day of DHA and EPA. For people with a history of heart disease and those with high blood triglyceride levels, fish oil supplements are needed to reach the recommended intake.

*Statins are a class LDL (bad) cholesterol-lowering drugs. Members of this class include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor).

4/26/08 15:21 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 www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.