NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

“Convincing” Evidence Supports Benefits of Fish Oils

August 31st, 2009

A “state of the art” review in Journal of the American College of Cardiology found convincing evidence from extensive research over the past 30 years to support beneficial effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated acids (PUFAs) in both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

In the review, Lavie and colleagues discuss evidence from retrospective epidemiologic studies and large randomized controlled trials showing the benefits of PUFAs—specifically, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—in healthy individuals and in patients with documented cardiovascular disease. The authors also provide insight into potential mechanisms of these observed benefits.

The review recommends target EPA + DHA consumption of at least 500 mg/day for individuals without underlying overt cardiovascular disease and at least 800 to 1,000 mg/day for individuals with known coronary heart disease or heart failure. Although healthy individuals could achieve the recommended consumption by eating two oily fish meals per week, most American adults are likely to require supplements.

The authors conclude that further studies are needed to determine optimal dosing and the relative ratio of DHA and EPA that provides maximal cardioprotection in individuals at risk of CV disease as well in the treatment of atherosclerotic, arrhythmic, and primary myocardial disorders.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009;54:585-94.

Author: Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz, BPharm