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No benefit of prescription omega-3 fatty acids in prevention of recurrent symptomatic atrial fibrillation in affected patients

Findings from a new study show, compared to placebo, treatment with high-dose prescription Omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the recurrence of symptomatic atrial fibrillation among patients with symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation or persistent atrial fibrillation who have no evidence of substantial structural heart disease.

This was a six-month, multicentre, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. It examined the efficacy and safety of prescription Omega-3 fatty acids ( Lovaza, Omega-3-acid ethyl esters ) for the prevention of recurrent symptomatic atrial fibrillation.

Lovaza is a prescription medication made from Omega-3 fish oil indicated as an adjunct to diet, to reduce triglyceride levels in adult patients with severe ( greater than or equal to 500 mg/dL ) hypertriglyceridemia.
The effect of Lovaza on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in patients with elevated triglycerides has not been determined.
Lovaza is not indicated for the treatment or prevention of recurrent symptomatic atrial fibrillation.

The study showed no benefit in reducing the recurrence of symptomatic atrial fibrillation in patient groups treated with high-dose, prescription Omega-3 fatty acids and placebo.
In both the pre-specified original analysis and the analysis of an independent statistician, the rate of recurrence to atrial fibrillation or flutter was higher in the Lovaza arm compared to placebo.
The incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events was similar between the two treatment groups. Five percent of patients on placebo and 4% of patients taking prescription Omega-3 discontinued the study medication due to adverse events.

Previous clinical trials of Omega-3 fish oils used in atrial fibrillation have yielded mixed results. The study authors reviewed several factors which might contribute to the differences between their findings and those of other studies, such as differences in study populations, dosing regimens, product formulations or use of concomitant therapies.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by an irregular and often rapid heart rate. People with atrial fibrillation may or may not feel symptoms, which include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Atrial fibrillation may occur rarely or occasionally, or it may become persistent.
According to the American Heart Association ( AHA ), atrial fibrillation is a disorder found in about 2.2 million Americans.
Atrial fibrillation is related to age and the risk increases the older people get. Men and women are equally susceptible to the disease. Other risk factors include heart disease, high blood pressure, other chronic conditions such as thyroid disease, drinking alcohol and family history.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010