Study: Fish oil doesn’t help heart rhythm problem
Eating fish is good for the heart, but taking omega-3 fish oil supplements did not prevent flare-ups of a common heart rhythm problem as doctors hoped it would, researchers reported Monday.
It was the first large, well-done study to test omega-3 capsules for atrial fibrillation, when the heart quivers instead of beating normally. More than 2 million Americans have the problem, which is more than an unsettling flutter - it raises the risk of blood clots that can cause a stroke.
Small studies have gone back and forth on whether fish oil helps this condition. Researchers tested this by giving 663 people with atrial fibrillation either dummy pills or a high-dose prescription version of omega-3 fatty acids - the good fat in oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.
After six months, there was no difference in heart flutter episodes. Doctors say ordinary fish oil supplements that people buy at the store are even less likely to help this condition.
"This is data that we’ve needed sorely," because so many people are taking supplements, said Dr. Christine Albert of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. "They showed no evidence of any benefit."
The study’s leader, Dr. Peter Kowey, cardiology chief at Main Line Health Hospital System near Philadelphia, said many people take supplements and vitamins that have not been well tested.