Usefulness of omega-3 fatty acids and the prevention of coronary heart disease.Am J Cardiol 2005; 96(11):1521-9AJ
Clinical trial evidence exists that supports a role for the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary heart disease prevention. However, the results from these clinical trials have varied and were conducted in diverse population groups using several different types of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Thus, we systematically reviewed previously published reports assessing the different types of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid interventions and cardiovascular outcomes. Fourteen randomized clinical trials were included in the review. Six trials were included with fish oil, with 1 large trial (10,000 patients) dominating the analysis. In aggregate, the fish oil trials demonstrated a reduction in total mortality and sudden death without a clinically significant reduction in nonfatal myocardial infarction. The 6 trials with ALA supplements or an ALA-enriched diet were of poorer design than the fish oil trials and had limited power. Many of the trials with ALA involved other changes in dietary components. In aggregate, the ALA trials demonstrated possible benefits in reducing sudden death and nonfatal myocardial infarction, but with wider confidence intervals than in the fish oil trials. In conclusion, the evidence suggests a role for fish oil (eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid) or fish in secondary prevention because recent clinical trial data have demonstrated a significant reduction in total mortality, coronary heart disease death, and sudden death. The data on ALA have been limited by studies of smaller sample size and limited quality.