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Cardiovasc Res. 2002 Apr;54(1):183-90.

Effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids on progression of atherosclerosis in carotid arteries.

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  • 1Klinikum der Universität München, Institut und Poliklinik für Arbeits- und Umweltmedizin-Innenstadt, Ziemssenstrasse 1, Germany.



Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFA) from fish oil slow atherosclerosis progression in coronary arteries, as we showed in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Embedded in this trial, the present study examined the influence of 2 years of dietary supplementation with 1.65 g omega-3 PUFA per day on progression of carotid atherosclerosis in 223 patients with coronary artery disease.


Coronary angiography, a comprehensive clinical examination, and intima-media thickness measurement by B-mode ultrasound of the carotid arteries (common, internal and bifurcation), were performed at the study start and study end. An expert panel visually evaluated the global change of carotid atherosclerosis on a semiquantitative scale. A second outcome measure was the change of overall mean maximum intima-media thickness.


One hundred and seventy-one patients completed the study. In the global change score, 38% of the patients in the fish oil group and 35% in the placebo group showed progression. Global change was not different between intervention groups. Mean maximum intima-media thickness increased by 0.07+/-0.13 mm and 0.05+/-0.11 mm in the fish oil and placebo group, respectively (mean+/-S.D., P=0.24). No correlation was found between the change in carotid and coronary arteries.


In this group of selected patients with documented coronary artery disease omega-3 PUFA given for 2 years did not demonstrate an effect on slowing progression of atherosclerosis in carotid arteries as measured by ultrasound.

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