Study: Fish Oil Does Not Improve Benefit of Heart Drugs

Fish oil may not provide added protection to heart attack sufferers who are already taking the right heart medications to ward off future problems, according to a study presented by the American College of Cardiology. 


In the study, nearly 4,000 recent heart attack sufferers were given a gram of a prescription version of a highly purified fish oil supplement or a placebo for one year, and researchers found no improvement in the rate of cardiac events for those patients who took the fish oil. Still, the researchers were quick to point out that fish oil supplementation is still of value and that this particular study did not specifically address whether fish oil can prevent the onset of heart disease in the first place.

In the study, which was conducted at 104 community health centers around Germany, 3.9% of patients had another non-fatal heart attack during the year-long follow-up, and there was no significant different between the patients taking fish oil and those taking a placebo. As the researchers noted, one reason could be that most of the patients in the study patients were also receiving many drug therapies, which may have offset or overwhelmed the effects of the fish oil. Ninety-four percent of patients were on beta-blockers during the study, 94% received statins to lower cholesterol, 95% were given aspirin and 88% received Plavix, a prescription drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis SA. “In patients who are already taking optimal medical therapy, cardiac event rates become very low and omega-3s do not further improve them,” noted Jochen Senges, professor of cardiology at Heart Center Ludwigshafen at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

U.S. consumer sales of fish oil grew 29% to $627 million in 2007, according to Nutrition Business Journal research. Preliminary 2008 estimates show that fish oil experienced another very solid year in the mass market and grew an estimated 20%-30% in 2008. NBJ expects more solid growth in 2009 as consumers continue to be educated on the benefits of essential fatty acids.

Related NBJ links:
Ocean Nutrition Canada Expands Fish Oil Production
Study Finds Fish Oil Superior to Rx Cholesterol-Reducing Drug
Omega-3’s from Fish Helping Japanese Heart Health

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