Omega-3 Supplements Linked to Heart Rhythm Disorder

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fat that are known to be good for heart health. But our body cannot make Omega-3 fatty acids on its own, they are present in foods and dietary supplements. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout, and tuna are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people to eat fish at least twice a week.  While foods are your best bet to get the omega-3s you need, fish oil supplements are commonly prescribed for patients with elevated plasma triglycerides to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Low dose omega-3 fatty acids are also available over the counter, without the need for a prescription. People who do not like fish are also turning to omega-3 supplements for getting the essential fat. But US researchers have cautioned that taking Omega-3 supplements may increase the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, in people with high blood lipids.

People with heart rhythm disorder have a five times greater likelihood of having a stroke, noted the researchers in a study paper published in European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Dr. Salvatore Carbone of Virginia Commonwealth University, US and team performed a comprehensive meta-analysis of five randomised controlled trials investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes. It included a total of 50,277 patients who had elevated triglycerides and were either at high risk for cardiovascular disease or had established cardiovascular disease. The participants received either fish oils (0.84 g to 4 g per day) or placebo and they were followed up for between 2 and 7.4 years. Also Read – Fish oil may help in preventing heart attack

The research team found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a significantly increased risk for atrial fibrillation compared to placebo with an incidence rate ratio of 1.37 (95% confidence interval 1.22–1.54; p<0.001). “Although one clinical trial indicated beneficial cardiovascular effects of supplementation, the risk for atrial fibrillation should be considered when such agents are prescribed or purchased over the counter, especially in individuals susceptible to developing the heart rhythm disorder,” Dr. Carbone said.

Also read: Supplements: Popular supplements could raise risk of atrial fibrillation – study

Do you have high triglyceride levels? Here’s how to check

Having high triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, is a common problem affecting a large number worldwide. This condition is linked with heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke, especially in people with low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and type 2 diabetes patients. Very high levels of triglycerides are also associated with liver and pancreas problems. But how would you know if your triglycerides are high? A fasting blood test is used to determine your triglyceride levels, which is –

  • Normal if the number is less than 150 mg/dL.
  • High if it ranges between 200 to 499 mg/dL.
  • Very High when it is 500 mg/dL or above.

The American Heart Association recommends that anyone over age 20 should get regular tests to track their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Making changes to your lifestyle can have a dramatic benefit for people with high triglycerides. The AHA suggests getting more physical activity, losing some weight (if you’re heavy), choosing healthier fats, and limiting alcohol intake.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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