Omega-3 fatty acids are an unsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can cause blood vessel damage, which can lead to heart disease and strokes.
The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 38 omega-3 fatty acid randomized controlled trials. They discovered that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes overall. The results of studies using EPA alone rather than EPA+DHA supplements revealed a significantly greater reduction in cardiovascular risk.
For decades, there has been a lot of speculation about whether omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the number of cardiovascular events. The results of the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with Icosapent Ethyl-Intervention Trial (REDUCE-IT) were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018, demonstrating that a high dose of a purified ethyl ester of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in patients at high cardiac risk significantly reduced cardiovascular events. The trial’s findings led to the United States.
The FDA, Health Canada, and the European Medicines Agency have approved the prescription drug icosapent ethyl for lowering cardiovascular risk in patients with high triglycerides, as well as updates to global guidelines. However, previous and subsequent studies of omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have yielded conflicting results.
Support for a cardiovascular benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), has come from a new systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials of omega-3 fatty acids were conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other institutions. They discovered that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes overall. The findings, which have now been published in eClinical Medicine, show that studies of EPA alone, rather than EPA+DHA supplements, resulted in a significantly greater reduction in cardiovascular risk.
For decades, there has been a lot of speculation about whether omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the number of cardiovascular events. The results of the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with Icosapent Ethyl-Intervention Trial (REDUCE-IT) were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018, demonstrating that a high dose of a purified ethyl ester of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in patients at high cardiac risk significantly reduced cardiovascular events.
Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and elsewhere conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials of omega-3 fatty acids. Overall, they found that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes.
“REDUCE-IT has heralded a new era in cardiovascular prevention,” said senior author Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, the Brigham’s executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs and the trial’s lead investigator. “REDUCE-IT was the EPA’s largest and most rigorous contemporary trial, but there have been others. We can now see that the totality of the evidence supports EPA’s robust and consistent benefit.”
For many years, the American Heart Association has advised people to consume unsaturated fat-rich fish at least twice a week. The unsaturated fats found in fish are known as omega-3 fatty acids. Fish’s omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients may benefit heart health and lower the risk of dying from heart disease.
Some people are worried about the presence of mercury or other contaminants in seafood. However, the benefits of eating fish as part of a healthy diet usually outweigh the risks of contaminant exposure. Learn how to balance these concerns by including a healthy amount of fish in your diet.
Bhatt and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 38 randomized clinical trials involving omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA monotherapy and EPA+DHA therapy. More than 149,000 people took part in these trials in total. They looked at key cardiovascular outcomes such as cardiovascular mortality, nonfatal cardiovascular outcomes, bleeding, and atrial fibrillation. Overall, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce cardiovascular mortality and improve cardiovascular outcomes. When compared to EPA+DHA trials, EPA trials showed greater relative reductions in cardiovascular outcomes.
The researchers point out that while both EPA and DHA are considered omega-3 fatty acids, they have different chemical properties that influence their stability and the strength of the effect they can have on cholesterol molecules and cell membranes. To date, no trials have investigated the effects of DHA alone on cardiovascular outcomes.
“This meta-analysis provides reassurance about the role of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly prescription EPA,” Bhatt said. “It should encourage researchers to look into the cardiovascular effects of EPA in a variety of clinical settings.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat that the human body cannot produce on its own. They are essential fat, which means they must be consumed in order to survive. The foods we eat provide us with the omega-3 fatty acids we require. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to improve cardiovascular health. The majority of this research focuses on EPA and DHA, but ALA can also help improve your health.