HealthDay News — Fish oil supplements are associated with a significantly greater risk for atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients at elevated cardiovascular risk, according to a research letter published online April 28 in the European Heart Journal: Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

Marco Lombardi, M.D., from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify randomized controlled trials evaluating omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes among participants with elevated triglycerides and either at high risk for cardiovascular disease or with established cardiovascular disease.

Based on five included studies (50,277 patients), the researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is associated with an increased risk for incident AF versus placebo (incident rate ratio, 1.37). The VITAL rhythm trial was included in a sensitivity analysis, with results confirming a higher risk for AF in the group receiving supplementation versus placebo (incident rate ratio, 1.29). Follow-up ranged from two to 7.4 years, and the dose of fish oils varied from 0.84 g to 4 g per day.

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“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,” a coauthor said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry.

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