- New research has found that omega-3 supplementation is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation in people at high risk or existing heart disease.
- Experts say the relationship between omega-3 supplements and heart health is complex.
- Talk to your doctor about the risks and what is best for you.
According to a new analysis from the European Society of Cardiology, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is associated with an increased chance of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib) in people with high triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
“Fish oil supplements are currently indicated for patients with high blood triglycerides to reduce their cardiovascular risk,” said Salvatore Carbone, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, in a statement.
“Because of the high triglyceride prevalence in the population, it can be generally determined,” he added.
The new analysis looked at five randomized controlled trials and examined the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes.
The study participants had high triglyceride levels. They are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or have been diagnosed.
More than 50,000 participants received fish oil. (A source of omega-3) or a placebo, the researchers followed them for up to 7.4 years.The fish oil intake ranged from 0.84 grams to 4 grams per day.
The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a significantly increased risk of AFib compared to placebo.
“Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the upper chambers of the left atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Michael Lueffman, MD, MD. Hearts at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in New York told Healthline.
“While some may feel [heart] Palpitations in atrial fibrillation, with others asymptomatic, “he said.
Goyfman added that the main concern with AFib is the risk of stroke or otherwise.
“To reduce this risk, blood thinners are often prescribed to AFib patients who are at higher risk of stroke,” Goyfman said.
Omega 3 is an essential fat that the body needs to stay healthy.
Omega-3s are not produced in the body, according to the National Institutes of Health. We have to consume them to maintain a healthy level.
There are three types of Omega-3:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
The National Institutes of Health stress that omega-3s are an essential part of the cell membranes that surround the cells in our bodies.
DHA levels are high, especially in the eyes, brain, and sperm cells, and play an important role in many body functions.
Goyfman insists that for healthy people who consume omega-3s as part of a diet such as the Mediterranean diet, “the incidence of cardiovascular disease is significantly reduced.”
Scientific recommendations for 2019, published in the journal Circulation, say that prescription omega-3s, 4 grams per day, can lower triglyceride levels by 20 to 30 percent in most people.
But how important is it to lower these levels?
“Triglycerides are a type of fat in our body and their levels are measured with blood tests that are similar to other fats, such as HDL, ‘good’ cholesterol and LDL, ‘bad’ cholesterol, ” Goyfman said.
“Although there is a relationship between high triglyceride levels and cardiovascular disease. But this has never been the cause, ”he says,” and we are not currently using triglyceride levels to calculate the risk of people having a stroke or heart attack. “
When asked whether the benefits of omega-3 supplements for healthy people outweigh the potential risks, says Dr. Lawrence M. Epstein, director of electrophysiology at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in New York, said it was “not clear”.
“This is still controversial and is the reason for the completion of this study,” Epstein said. “Some claim it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by affecting fats such as triglycerides. He can reduce the risk of life-threatening heart rhythm problems. “
Epstein emphasizes the importance of letting your doctor know what supplements you are taking.
“It is important for patients to inform their doctors. all The supplements they take, ”he says.“ This study suggests whether you have atrial fibrillation. Perhaps you should avoid them. ”
“Reduction-IT trials have shown that patients with high triglycerides who are taking prescription-only omega-3 supplements reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, including death from heart disease and stroke. Atherosclerosis, “Goyfman said,” so this is a complex question to be answered. “
According to Goyfman, AFib can be treated with appropriate drugs, procedures, or both. The risk of stroke can be reduced with the use of blood thinners.
“Some would argue that the reduction in mortality outweighs the risk of atrial fibrillation,” Goyfman said.
“On the other hand,” he cautioned, “people who are not in the category who might benefit from an omega-3 supplement may be at unnecessary risk of developing atrial fibrillation.”
Goyfman said it’s important to remember that there are different types of omega-3s.
“Only EPA was used in the REDUCE-IT experiment and the EPA and DHA mixture was used in the
“If different compounds were used, would we compare apples to oranges,” Goyfman said.
Until further studies on specific types and amounts of omega-3s are available, Goyfman “does not advise patients to decide to stop or start omega-3 supplementation without consulting a doctor.”
Epstein added that many supplements are poorly controlled, often without warning, and should be better controlled generally.
New research has found that omega-3 supplementation is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation in people at high risk or existing heart disease.
Experts say that while omega-3s are essential to health. But the relationship between the use of these supplements and heart health is complex.
They also say supplements are generally poorly controlled. Always talk to your doctor before including omega-3 supplements in your diet.