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Marine omega-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease

Calder, Philip C.a; Yaqoob, Parveenb

Current Opinion in Cardiology: July 2012 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 412–419
doi: 10.1097/HCO.0b013e328353febd
LIPIDS AND HEART DISEASE: Edited by Anthony S. Wierzbicki and Dimitri P Mikhailidis

Purpose of review To provide an overview of the key earlier intervention studies with marine omega-3 fatty acids and to review and comment on recent studies reporting on mortality outcomes and on selected underlying mechanisms of action.

Recent findings Studies relating marine omega-3 fatty acid status to current or future outcomes continue to indicate benefits, for example, on incident heart failure, congestive heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, and all-cause mortality. New mechanistic insights into the actions of marine omega-3 fatty acids have been gained. Three fairly large secondary prevention trials have not confirmed the previously reported benefit of marine omega-3 fatty acids towards mortality in survivors of myocardial infarction. Studies of marine omega-3 fatty acids in atrial fibrillation and in cardiac surgery-induced atrial fibrillation have produced inconsistent findings and meta-analyses demonstrate no benefit. A study confirmed that marine omega-3 fatty acids reduce the inflammatory burden with advanced atherosclerotic plaques, so inducing greater stability.

Summary Recent studies of marine omega-3 fatty acids on morbidity of, and mortality from, coronary and cardiovascular disease have produced mixed findings. These studies raise new issues to be addressed in future research.

aHuman Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, and the Southampton NIHR Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle Biomedical Research Unit, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire

bHugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, and Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, School of Chemistry, Food Biosciences and Pharmacy, The University of Reading, Reading, UK

Correspondence to Philip C. Calder, Human Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, IDS Building, MP887 Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, Hampshire, UK. Tel: +44 2380 795250; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.