A recently published study found that the majority of cardiac patients utilizing fish oil dietary supplements did so without the recommendation of a healthcare professional and without proper medical supervision.
In order to determine and better understand misconceptions regarding fish oil dietary supplements, the study authors assessed patient’s patterns of use and knowledge surrounding these products. During the study, an anonymous survey was presented to 1000 consecutive patients in the in-patient cardiology service at the Creighton University Medical Center between January 2015 and March 2017.
The survey included 10 multiple choice questions inquiring about reasons for use, active ingredients in and brand of the product, prescriber recommendations, purchase place, cost, pill burden, and the use of supplements versus prescription omega-3 fatty acids. Of the total patients who received the survey, 71% (N=711) completed it.
“Primary reasons for use included general health (34%), heart health (28%), arthritis (9%), and lipid disorders (8%),” the study authors reported. Results of the survey found that only 14% of patients were recommended to initiate fish oil products by a healthcare provider while 2.5% received prescription omega-3-fatty acids.
Additionally, findings of the study also showed that only 26% of respondents knew the active ingredient in their supplement and 81% obtained their supplements through nonpharmacy retail sellers.
“Most cardiac patients consuming fish oil dietary supplements do so without medical supervision and without knowledge of the active ingredients,” the study authors concluded. They added, “As most patients obtain supplements outside of a pharmacy, opportunities to monitor and educate patients remain a major challenge.”
Hilleman, D. E., Teply, R., & Packard, K. A. (2019). Knowledge, perceptions, and patterns of fish oil use in cardiac patients. Journal of Pharmacy Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/0897190018824485