This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Omega-3 beneficial in heart failure

By Nigel Praities

Researchers have shown that omega-3 oils can reduce mortality and hospital admissions for cardiovascular reasons in patients with heart failure for the first time, while statins show no effect.

The beneficial cardiovascular effects of omega-3 fatty acids are well known, but there was no evidence until now that this dietary supplement could have a significant effect over existing treatments for heart failure.

The GISSI-HF trial in nearly 6,000 Italian patients with heart failure looked at the effect of 1 gram of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty=2 0acids per day versus placebo. The results show the patients taking omega-3 had additional relative risk reductions of 9% for all-cause mortality and 8% for hospitalisation for cardiovascular reasons

Professor Luigi Tavazzi, presenting the results at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Munich, said although the effect was ‘smaller than expected' he thought it was strong enough to potentially change guidelines for heart failure.

‘In chronic heart failure the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were moderately effective, safe, simple and cheap. The effect was obtained on top of recommended treatment and had a consistent effect across all predefined sub-groups,' he said.

In a related study by the same researchers, they showed that 10mg daily of rosuvastatin did not affect the clinical outcomes in patients with chronic heart failure. Nearly 30% of patients in the rosuvastatin group died from any cause compared with 28% in the placebo group.

Dr Terry McCormack, a GP in Whitby and chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said he was sceptical of the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids in this particular group of patients.

‘If I prescribe you a statin the day before you die of a heart attack, you are still going to die tomorrow. Those who survive four years with heart failure are a unique group of patients, but do you really need to take something like omega-3 at this stage of your life?' he said.

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say