Prescription fish oil doesn’t provide heart benefits


(CLEVELAND CLINIC) — An international clinical trial finds prescription-strength fish oil may not help your heart.

Steven Nissen, MD, is a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic and led the research team.

“A very high-dose, of a very powerful fish oil, a very effective fish oil, didn’t produce any reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke or death,” said Dr. Nissen. “That was the really important finding from the trial. Fish oil simply doesn’t produce a cardiovascular benefit.”

Researchers looked at data from more than 13,000 people around the world being treated with a statin, which lowers cholesterol levels in the body.

That means they’re also at higher risk of suffering a major cardiac event, like a heart attack or stroke.

Participants were given either a high-dose prescription fish oil, or a corn oil placebo.

Ultimately, researchers found no significant reduction in heart attack, stroke or death for the people taking high-dose fish oil.

Those in the fish oil group were also 69-percent more likely to develop an irregular heartbeat.

Dr. Nissen said the medical community will need to take another look at how fish oil is prescribed.

“I’m actually concerned that fish oil is used very widely without very good evidence of benefit, and I think we are going to have to come to terms with that problem.”

Remember, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication, including over-the-counter supplements.

If you’re interested in learning more, complete results for this study can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Upon original publication, an image of a pill was used with the understanding it was a picture of a fish-oil capsule.  Unfortunately, the photo had a brand name printed on the pill not associated with the story in any way.  As soon as this mistake was noticed, the image was immediately changed.  ABC4 apologizes for any confusion.


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