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Research Letter
August 12/26, 2013

ω-3 Fatty Acid Supplements for Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: From “No Proof of Effectiveness” to “Proof of No Effectiveness”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Unit, Ente dei Servizi Tecnici di Area Vasta (ESTAV) Toscana Centro, Regional Health Service, Florence, Italy
JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(15):1466-1468. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6638

In patients who have experienced cardiovascular events, ω-3 fatty acid supplements do not seem to be beneficial.1 However, there is not universal agreement on this conclusion.1-3 On the one hand, after examining the data of 14 randomized placebo-controlled studies, the meta-analysis by Kwak et al1 found no reduction in cardiovascular events (risk ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.89-1.09) as well as no improvement in other relevant end points. On the other hand, the aforementioned meta-analysis has been criticized because 2 positive randomized studies4,5 were excluded owing to their open-label design and no administration of placebo; furthermore, a query of clinicaltrials.gov (run on March 5, 2013) indicates that 8 trials, registered on this website, are presently under way, thus confirming that the effectiveness of ω-3 fatty acid supplements is still thought to be an open question.