June 2nd, 2011

Small Study Suggests Possible Benefits of Fish-Oil Supplements for PCI Patients

A small study from Poland raises the possibility that supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids may have beneficial effects when given to PCI patients already taking aspirin and clopidogrel. The investigator-initiated study randomized 54 PCI patients to either 1 g per day of n-3 PUFA daily or placebo for one month. The results have been published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

After one month, treatment with n-3-PUFA compared with placebo resulted in:

  • significantly larger pores in the fibrin network, suggesting increased susceptibility to fibrinolysis,
  • a reduction in thrombin generation, and
  • a reduction in oxidative stress.

The supplements had no significant effect on fibrinogen or clotting-factor levels. A previous paper from the same study published last year in JACC reported that the fish-oil supplement helped augment the response of platelets to clopidogrel.

“There are no other studies on omega-3 effects in patients who were already being treated with optimal medical therapy after stent placement,” said the first author of the study, Grzegorz Gajos, in an AHA press release. “This was a proof of concept study. We were looking for any effect and what it might be.”

The authors concluded that their results indicate “novel antithrombotic effects produced by these agents. These effects may contribute to a decreased risk of thrombotic events after PCI following n-3 PUFA administration. A larger study is needed to assess clinical benefits potentially related to these novel antithrombotic effects of n-3 PUFA.”

5 Responses to “Small Study Suggests Possible Benefits of Fish-Oil Supplements for PCI Patients”

  1. Joseph Wildman, MD says:

    Excuse me–
    You are SERIOUSLY telling us about a FIFTY-FOUR patient study as if this is worthy of attention!!!!

  2. Dr. Wildman, in picking news stories to cover I employ many different criteria. I tried to make it clear in this story that this was not a practice-changing study. Instead it was intended as an alert about a study with some interesting findings that MIGHT have an impact in the future. I hope I did not suggest anything more than that in the story.

    I am curious to know if other CardioExchange readers would like to see more or fewer stories like this in the future. Let me know.

  3. Robin Motz, M.D., Ph.D. says:

    A patient who developed prostate cancer in one year (PSA from 1.7 to 3.2 rise led to a biopsy with a Gleason score of 7) told me that he did a world-wide literature search for possible accelerants, and found that patients who took daily fish oil were at risk for accelerated growth of prostate cancer. He did not remember if he read the study or was told about it by a researcher from Europe (disappointingly vague reference, of course) and is currently unreachable. Has anyone else heard or read about such a possible linkage?

  4. Eiman Jahangir, MD says:

    I believe it is useful to hear about research with small sample size. These studies, while they should not change clinical practice, may lead to ideas and research that can be beneficial in the future. Fish oil is a supplement/treatment commonly used in cardiology and this study introduces a possible novel approach to its use.

  5. Thomas Barringer, MD says:

    The most recent study receiving publicity on the topic of omega-3 FAs and prostate cancer was a nested case-control analysis of a prostate cancer prevention trial, which showed an OR for high-grade prostate cancer of 2.5 between Q4 and Q1 mean serum phospholipid omega-3 levels. Just as surprising was the inverse association between high-grade prostate ca and trans fatty acids. These results are contrary to previous findings.

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:
    speaker bureau for GSK