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J Pharm Pract. 2012 Feb;25(1):69-74. doi: 10.1177/0897190011406983.

Fish oil: what is the role in cardiovascular health?

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  • 1University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Fish and fish oil supplements are often used to lower triglycerides; however, recent studies suggest the beneficial use of fish oil for other cardiovascular reasons. Studies have shown that in addition to decreasing triglycerides, fish oil has shown benefit in providing antiplatelet activity, improving heart failure, and improving vascular function in diabetes. Fish oil was shown to improve triglycerides in combination with other lipid-lowering therapy such as a statin or fibrate. Fish oil also had effects on lowering total cholesterol, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL). In terms of its antiplatelet activity, fish oil was shown to lower platelet aggregation when given in combination with clopidogrel and aspirin therapy during PCI, thus fish oil appears to enhance platelet response to clopidogrel. Fish oil has a role in heart failure as well.Fish oil was shown to slightly decrease morbidity and mortality in patients with class II-IV heart failure compared to placebo.Finally, fish oil showed benefit in patients with type II diabetes in terms of improving micro- and macrovascular function.

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