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Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation does not reduce mortality or CVD events

Clinical Question:
Does dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of major cardiovascular disease and premature mortality?

Bottom Line:
This systematic review found no evidence to support a clinical recommendation for dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality. Since the median duration of the trials was only 2 years, there may still be a benefit to long-term supplementation. (LOE = 1a)

Reference:
Rizos EC, Ntzani EE, Bika E, Kostapanos MS, Elisaf MS. Association between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and risk of major cardiovascular disease events. A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2012;308(10):1024-1033.  [PMID:22968891]

Study Design:
Meta-analysis (randomized controlled trials)

Funding:
Unknown/not stated

Setting:
Various (meta-analysis)

Synopsis:
These investigators thoroughly searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Registry, and relevant references from pertinent citations for randomized trials evaluating omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in adults with and without known cardiovascular disease. No language restrictions were specified. Two investigators independently assessed individual trials for study eligibility and methodologic quality using standard validated criteria from the Cochrane collaboration for assessing risk of bias. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus discussion with a third reviewer. A total of 20 studies (N = 68,680) met study criteria, with a median treatment duration of 2 years. The majority of studies were of high methodologic quality with a low risk of bias. No statistically significant associations occurred with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation compared with control for reduced all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke. Formal analyses found no evidence of significant heterogeneity or publication bias.

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