If you’re taking prescription supplements to improve your heart health, new research suggests there’s one popular pill that can come off your list.
Fish oil products, containing the “good fats” from fish, have long been thought to improve heart health. Despite earlier FDA approval, scientists at the Cleveland Clinic say new research examined the benefits of prescription-strength fish oil pills.
“This is a drug that is like the fish oil people buy over-the-counter, but much, much more effective. It has a higher amount of what we call omega-3 fatty acids which is the active component in fish oil,” explained Dr. Steven Nissen, chief academic officer of the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
In a randomized trial of 13,000 patients called the STRENGTH trial, some participants received daily, high-dose Omega-3 supplements. Others received a placebo made from corn oil, which is used in cooking. Researchers found the prescription Omega-3 fatty acid did not reduce cardiovascular events like heart attack.
“It’s really kind of a wake-up call when you see a study like this where the most potent, prescription-grade fish oil didn’t have any favorable effects,” Nissen said.
In fact, the STRENGTH trial showed a 69% increase in atrial fibrillation in the group that took the high dose Omega-3. Scientists say the findings indicate these products should undergo additional review.
Nissen said the results of the STRENGTH trial have implications for over-the-counter fish oil products since many people take large doses to avoid the expense of prescription fish oil.