New year, new chance to improve your eating habits. But if you’re taking prescription supplements to improve your heart health, new research suggests that there is a popular pill that can be crossed off your list.
Fish oil products, which contain the “good fats” from fish, have long been considered beneficial to health. Despite previous FDA approval, scientists at the Cleveland Clinic say new research has explored the benefits of prescription fish oil pills.
“This is a drug that is like the fish oil people buy over the counter, but much, much more effective. It has a higher percentage of what is known as the omega-3 fatty acids, which are the active ingredient in fish oil, ”said Steven Nissen, MD, chief academic officer of the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
In a randomized study with 13,000 patients, the so-called STRENGTH study, some participants received high-dose omega-3 supplements daily. Others were given a placebo made from corn oil, which is used in cooking. Researchers found that the prescription omega-3 fatty acid did not reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.
“It really is a wake-up call to see a study like this where the strongest prescription-grade fish oil had no beneficial effects,” said Dr. Nits.
In fact, the STRENGTH study showed a 69 percent increase in atrial fibrillation in the group that took the high-dose omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists say the results suggest these products should be subject to additional review.
Dr. Nissen says the STRENGTH study results have implications for over-the-counter fish oil products as many people take large doses to avoid the cost of prescription fish oil.
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