November 15th, 2010

Omega-3s Fail to Show Benefits in Atrial Fibrillation

In sharp contrast to earlier studies suggesting a positive effect, a large study of high-dose prescription omega-3 fatty acids found no evidence of benefit in treating atrial fibrillation. The trial, called the Efficacy and Safety of Prescription Omega-3 Acid Ethyl Esters (P-OM3) for the Prevention of Recurrent Symptomatic Atrial Fibrillation, included 663 patients with AF (542 with paroxysmal and 121 with persistent AF). Patients were randomized to take, for 24 weeks, either placebo or a prescription formulation of high-dose omega-3 fatty acids (8 g/day for the first week, 4 g/day thereafter).

There were no differences between the treatment and placebo groups in the primary endpoint, which was the time to the first recurrence of paroxysmal AF symptoms. Overall, in the placebo group there were 147 (46%) documented AF events compared to 167 (52%) in the omega-3 group. The omega-3s were well tolerated, the investigators reported.

“This was an attempt to do a definitive study to find out if manufactured omega-3 is beneficial in patients with atrial fibrillation,” said Peter Kowey, the lead author of the study, in an AHA press release. “The major finding was that fish oil did not work.”

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