EPA/DHA and Reduced Mortality after Heart Attack

January 23, 2013


Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mortality Outcome in Patients with and without Type 2 Diabetes after Myocardial Infarction: a Retrospective, Matched-Cohort Study
Poole, C. D. et al., Clinical Therapeutics , in press , 2013
Dept. of Primary Care and Public Health , School of Medicine , Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK


The objective of the present study was to evaluate the impact of highly purified omega-3 supplementation (1000 mg of EPA/DHA) given each day on all-cause mortality in patients following a myocardial infarction (heart attack). The patient population included those with and without Type 2 diabetes. A total of 12178 patients were studied of whom 2466 were exposed to omega-3 supplementation following their heart attack while the others were not. The vast majority of the patients in both groups were under appropriate medical treatment with blood lipid-lowering therapies, anti- hypertensives and anti-platelet medication. If taken, the omega-3 supplement was begun either within 14 or 90 days after the first heart attack in the patients. The follow-up duration approached 3 years.

After a heart attack, early treatment with EPA/DHA omega-3 was found to be associated with a considerable reduction in all-cause mortality despite the administration of various other cardio- protective medications. The relative rates of all-cause mortality in the omega-3 patients were lower by 28 % as compared to the non-omega-3 patients if EPA/DHA was initiated less than 90 days after the heart attack and 32% lower if initiated less than 14 days thereafter.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

The present report indicates that early treatment with appropriate EPA/DHA supplementation soon after a non-fatal heart attack in routine clinical practice was associated with a considerable lowering in the risk of death even when the patients were given conventional cardio-protective medications . These findings are of particular interest considering the recent review by Rizos et al. in JAMA (see ‘DHA/EPA Institute Comments on Recent Review’ at www.dhaomega3.org) which challenged recent reviews and clinical studies on the cardio-protective effects of EPA/ DHA in those with coronary heart disease. It is relevant to note that the American Heart Association advises the consumption of seven fatty fish servings/week or supplementation with 900-1000 mg of (EPA plus DHA) daily in those with coronary heart disease.

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