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Update on cardiometabolic health effects of -3 fatty acids

Kromhout, Daan; de Goede, Janette

doi: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000041
NUTRITION AND METABOLISM: Edited by Frank M. Sacks and Lawrence J. Appel

Purpose of review: The fish fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may promote cardiometabolic health. This review summarizes the results of recent meta-analyses of prospective studies on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2 and markers of atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

Recent findings: The results of recently published meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies showed that eating fish once a week was associated with a 16% lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and a 14% lower risk of stroke incidence, but was not related to heart failure. Fish consumption may be associated with a higher risk of diabetes in Western countries and a lower risk in Asian countries. Recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials showed that EPA–DHA supplementation reduced the risk of fatal CHD and sudden death by 10% of which the latter was not significant. Extra EPA–DHA did not reduce the risk of heart failure, stroke and cardiac arrhythmias. ω-3 fatty acid (FA) supplementation did reduce markers of ventricular fibrillation, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction and platelet aggregation.

Summary: There is strong evidence for a protective effect of ω-3 FA on fatal CHD and for some markers of atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Consistent results were not obtained for other vascular diseases and diabetes. ω-3 FA reduced markers of ventricular fibrillation but did not reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Daan Kromhout, Division of Human Nutrition, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 317 483054; fax: +31 317 483342; e-mail: daan.kromhout@wur.nl

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