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07-07-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

NICE recommendation for dietary omega-3 post-MI needs reviewing


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MedWire News: Omega-3 supplementation should be encouraged in post-myocardial infarction (post-MI) patients in order to comply with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations, say UK researchers.

The NICE guidelines state that post-MI patients should consume 7 g of omega-3 fatty acids per week from two to four portions of oily fish, explained Noura Al-Foraih, from the University of Manchester.

However, she said: "Our results show that the majority of patients find consuming 7 g per week of omega-3 fatty acids solely through dietary supplementation difficult and impractical."

From May through June 2008, Al-Foraih and team recruited 100 consecutive post-MI patients from a cardiology center in Manchester. All participants were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing their dietary fish consumption.

Presenting their findings at the HEART UK 25th Annual Conference in Warwick, UK, the researchers said that 96% of patients consumed fish, but that the majority only ate it once (39%) or twice (31%) per week, whereas just 17% and 2% consumed fish three or four times per week, respectively.

Only 17% felt that they could consume the recommended 7 g of omega-3 per week through their diet alone, and when the researchers asked individuals why they felt they were unable to meet the NICE recommendations, 88% said that the amount of fish they were expected to consume was "too high", while 10% said that they could not afford that amount of fish.

Overall, only 13% of patients were receiving omega-3 supplementation, but 83% said they would prefer to be on supplements as opposed to meeting the guidelines through their diet alone.

To assess whether the NICE recommendations were taken into consideration when catering for post-MI patients in hospitals, the researchers interviewed 24 dieticians from randomly selected hospitals in the UK. They found that none of the hospitals had a specific menu that considered the guidelines.

Fish was on the menu in 14 of the hospitals (58%) two to four times per week, but the researchers noted that this mainly consisted of white fish, not oily fish, which would "not provide patients with 7 g of omega-3 per week."

Al-Foraih concluded that hospitals should "aim to consider a different menu for cardiology in-patients to give them the choice of increasing their oily fish intake."

She added that if this was not practical, it would be cheaper and easier for patients to be provided with an omega-3 supplement to meet the recommended amount.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers