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Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Oct;18(5):581-92.

Fish oils in the care of coronary heart disease patients: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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Lyon Hospitals, Service de Pharmacologie clinique, EA643, Faculté RTH Laënnec, rue Guillaume Paradin, 69008 Lyon, France.


What is the place of fish oils in the care of coronary heart disease (CHD) patients? As several clinical trials have already addressed this question without giving definitive answers, we did a meta-analysis of trials regarding the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. We searched the MEDLINE (1966-2003), EMBASE databases, proceedings abstracts and references of reviewed articles. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids among adults with recent or acute myocardial infarction (MI), or angina were selected. Two reviewers abstracted data independently. Five relevant outcomes, mortality from all causes, fatal and non-fatal MI, non-fatal stroke and angina, were measured. Data were synthesized using a fixed effect model. Ten RCTs with 14,727 patients were included. No significant heterogeneity was detected. Daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for a mean duration of 37 months decreased all causes of mortality by 16% (relative risk 0.84, 95% confidence interval [0.76; 0.94]) and the incidence of death due to MI by 24% (0.76, [0.66; 0.88]). No significant effect was found for the other outcomes. Because of the suboptimal quality of the studies included into the meta-analysis and the absence of data in patients receiving statins, these results do not justify adding fish oils systematically to the heavy pharmaceutical assortment already recommended in CHD patients.

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