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19-06-2012 | Diabetes | Article

Omega 3 may not improve CV health


Free abstract

MedWire News: Daily omega 3 supplementation may not reduce risk for cardiovascular (CV) events in high-risk patients, show study findings.

Taking 1 g of the supplement each day did not prevent death or any CV outcome in patients with diabetes, impaired glucose control, or impaired fasting glucose who were at an increased risk for CV events.

The findings contradict those of studies reporting reduced rates of fatal and nonfatal CV events with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, say the investigators.

The team reports that among 12,513 participants (aged a mean of 64 years) from the Outcome Reduction with Initial Glargine Intervention (ORIGIN) trial, deaths from CV causes occurred in 574 (9.1%) patients on the omega 3 regimen, compared with 581 (9.3%) of those patients taking placebo.

The supplement also did not influence major vascular events, death from any cause, or death from arrhythmia, which occurred in 16.5% versus 16.3%, 15.1% versus 15.4%, and 4.6% versus 4.1% of the patients in the omega 3 compared with placebo patients.

There were no significant between-group differences in lipid fractions apart from in mean triglyceride level, which fell by 14.5 mg/dL more with omega 3 supplementation than it did in the placebo group.

No other significant differences in levels of plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, blood pressure, or heart rate were observed.

The team remarks in the New England Journal of Medicine that, until now, no large trials have focused on the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with Type 2 diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, or impaired glucose tolerance despite such patients being at increased risk for CV events.

"Whether similar results would have been observed at higher doses is unknown," say the authors, but three other large trials are currently underway that will provide important information about the effect of omega 3 supplementation in people at various risk levels.

The researchers point out that their findings may not be relevant to dietary recommendations to consume more fish, because dietary change not only increases the intake of foods containing omega 3 fatty acids but is also associated with a reduction in the consumption of foods such as red meats, which may be harmful.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sally Robertson

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