June 2017

Fish oil for heart disease

The debate on fish oil supplements continues. A new scientific advisory from the American Heart Association states that although fish oil is not indicated for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, it's reasonable to consider taking fish oil 1 gram daily for secondary prevention.

Most recent clinical trials show no benefit, but patients in the newer trials were more likely to be on statins and other medications that lower cardiovascular risk. In these patients, adding fish oil does not seem to further lower the cardiovascular risk. Overall, the American Heart Association concluded that the benefit of using fish oil outweighs the potential risk. They state that fish oil supplements might slightly decrease cardiovascular events in patients with a previous heart attack and modestly reduce death and hospitalizations in certain heart failure patients.

Advise patients to follow a heart-healthy diet eating at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. For those who don’t like or won’t eat fish, a fish oil supplement might be appropriate. However, for patients already well-treated with conventional medications such as a statin, there may be little or no benefit to adding a fish oil supplement.

Check out our recently updated fish oil monograph for more details. Also review our list of USP Verified Commercial Products containing fish oil, including NMBER ratings on each.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.