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Int J Cardiol. 2013 Oct 3;168(3):2754-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.03.053. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

Effects of high dose intravenous fish oil on human atrial electrophysiology: implications for possible anti- and pro-arrhythmic mechanisms in atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.



Intravenous omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) may prevent atrial fibrillation (AF) inducibility and perpetuation in animal models. We examined the effect of high dose IV ω-3 PUFAs on human atrial electrophysiology.


We randomised 88 patients with no structural heart disease to receive saline (control group) or high dose IV ω-3 PUFA infusion prior to detailed atrial electrophysiologic evaluation. Biologically active components, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were measured in total lipids, free fatty acid and phospholipid (membrane incorporated) fraction pre and post infusion. Compared to pre-infusion values, EPA and DHA increased significantly in the total lipids and free fatty acid but were unchanged in the phospholipid fraction. IV ω-3 did not alter atrial refractory periods, however it slowed right, left and global atrial conduction (P<.05). Inducible AF was significantly less likely in ω-3 patients compared to controls (AF ≥ 5 min, 20% vs. 58%, P = .02) and was non-sustained (mean AF duration: 14s vs. 39 s, P<.001), however inducible and sustained atrial flutter was more common (≥ 5 min: 28% vs. 0%, P = .01). Organisation of AF into flutter was observed in a greater proportion of inductions in the ω-3 group (8.5% vs. 0.6%, P<.001).


IV ω-3 PUFAs (as free fatty acids) cause acute atrial conduction slowing, suppress AF inducibility, organise AF into atrial flutter and enhance atrial flutter inducibility. These findings provide a novel insight into potential anti and pro-arrhythmic mechanisms of fish oils in human AF.

Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Atrial fibrillation; Atrial flutter; Electrophysiology; Fish oil; Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

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