Omega-3 fish oil supplements linked to cardiac arrhythmias


Omega-3 supplements have been linked to an increased chance of developing atrial fibrillation in people with high levels of fat in the blood. That is the result of a study published today in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).[1]

“At the moment, fish oil supplements are indicated for patients with elevated levels plasma Triglycerides to reduce cardiovascular risk “[2] said the study author Dr. Salvatore Carbone from Virginia Commonwealth University, USA. “Because of the high prevalence of elevated triglycerides in the population, they can often be prescribed. It is noteworthy that low-dose omega-3 fatty acids are available over-the-counter without the need for a prescription. “

Some clinical studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder. People with this disorder are five times more likely to have a stroke.[3]

These studies tested different formulations of omega-3 fatty acids in different doses. The authors therefore carried out a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to answer the question of whether fish oils are consistently associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

The analysis included five randomized controlled trials that looked at the effects of omega-3 fat acid Complementary to cardiovascular outcomes. Participants had elevated triglycerides and were either at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease or had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. A total of 50,277 patients received fish oils or placebo and were followed up for between 2 and 7.4 years. The dose of fish oils varied from 0.84 g to 4 g per day.

The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a significantly increased risk of atrial fibrillation compared to placebo with an incidence rate ratio of 1.37 (95% confidence interval 1.22-1.54; p <0.001) was.

Dr. Carbone said, “Our study suggests that fish oil supplements are associated with a significantly higher risk of atrial fibrillation in patients at increased cardiovascular risk. Although a clinical study showed beneficial cardiovascular effects of supplementation,[4] The risk of atrial fibrillation should be considered when prescribing or buying such drugs over the counter, especially for those prone to developing an arrhythmia. “


  1. “Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” by Lombardi M., Carbone S., Del Buono MG, et al., April 29, 2021, European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.
    DOI: 10.1093 / ehjcvp / pvab008
  2. Mach F., Baigent C., Catapano AL, et al. 2019 ESC / EAS Guidelines for the Treatment of Dyslipidemia: Lipid Modification to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. Eur Heart J. 2020; 41: 111-1 188
  3. Hindricks G., Potpara T., Nikolaos Dagres N. et al. 2020 ESC guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation, developed in collaboration with the European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS). Eur Heart J. 2020.
    DOI: 10.1093 / eurheartj / ehaa612
  4. Bhatt DL, Steg PG, Miller M. et al. Reduction of the cardiovascular risk with icosapent ethyl in hypertriglyceridemia. N Engl J Med. 2019; 380: 11- 22nd


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