The meta-analysis found that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes

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For decades, there has been great interest in whether omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the rate of cardiovascular events. In 2018, the results of the reduction of cardiovascular events with an intervention trial with ethyl icosapent (REDUCE-IT) were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and demonstrated that a high dose of a purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ethyl ester in patients at high cardiac risk significantly reduced cardiovascular events. The results of the trial led to the US. The Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency have approved the prescription drug icosapent ethyl to reduce cardiovascular risk in patients with elevated triglycerides, as well as updates to global guidelines. But previous and subsequent studies of omega-3 fatty acid supplements combining EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have had mixed results.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and elsewhere conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials of omega-3 fatty acids. In general, they found that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes. Results, now published in eClinical Medicine, showed a significantly greater reduction in cardiovascular risk in EPA studies alone rather than EPA + DHA supplements.

“REDUCE-IT has opened a new era in cardiovascular prevention,” said lead author Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, executive director of Brigham’s Interventional Cardiovascular Programs and lead researcher on the REDUCE-IT trial. “REDUCE-IT was the EPA’s largest and most rigorous contemporary trial, but there have been others as well. Now, we can see that all of the evidence supports a robust and consistent EPA benefit. “.

Bhatt and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 38 randomized clinical trials of omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA monotherapy and EPA + DHA therapy trials. In total, these trials included more than 149,000 participants. They assessed major cardiovascular outcomes, including cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal cardiovascular outcomes, bleeding, and atrial fibrillation. In general, omega-3 fatty acids reduced cardiovascular mortality and improved cardiovascular outcomes. EPA trials showed higher relative reductions in cardiovascular outcomes compared to EPA + DHA.

Researchers point out that there are crucial biological differences between EPA and DHA; although both are considered omega-3 fatty acids, they have different chemical properties that influence their stability and the strength of the effect they can have on cholesterol molecules and cell membranes. No so far the effects of DHA alone on cardiovascular outcomes have been studied.

“This meta – analysis provides insight into the role of omega-3s Bhatt, should encourage researchers to further explore the cardiovascular effects of EPA in different clinical settings.


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More information:
Khan SU et al. “Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis” eClinical Medicine DOI: 10.1016 / j.eclinm.2021.100997

Citation: Meta-analysis finds that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes (2021, July 8) recovered on July 8, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-meta-analysis-omega -fatty-acids-cardiovascular .html

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