Background and aim: The aim of the present study was to see whether a moderate dose of omega-3 fatty acids (FA) potentiates the beneficial effects of statins on the high risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) in patients with combined hyperlipemia.
Methods and results: In the present double-blind parallel study, 42 patients with combined hyperlipemia with serum triglycerides 2-15 mmol/L-1 and serum total cholesterol > 5.3 mmol/L-1 at the end of a three-month dietary run-in period were treated with 10 mg/d atorvastatin for 10 or more weeks. During the last 5 weeks they were randomized into two groups that received either 1.68 g/d omega-3 FA as ethylesters of eicosapentaenoic (45%) and docosahexaenoic acids (39%), or placebo (corn oil). As expected, atorvastatin significantly reduced serum total LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C), triglycerides and apolipoproteins B, E, CII and CIII, whereas HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) was increased. Addition of omega-3 FA further increased HDL-C (p < 0.03), and reduced systolic blood pressure (< 0.03), while the small dense LDL-particles (LDL III) (p < 0.05) and postprandial hypertriglyceridemia (p < 0.01) were reduced compared with the baseline, though there were no significant differences to the placebo group. This may be related to the large individual variation in these parameters and the small number of patients. No significant effects on basic or postheparin activities of lipoprotein lipase or hepatic lipase were observed after atorvastatin with or without addition of omega-3 FA.
Conclusions: This study indicates that addition of a low dose of omega-3 FA may further improve the risk profile for CHD in patients with combined hyperlipemia treated with atorvastatin. The effect is related to reduction of postprandial hyperlipemia and redistribution of LDL subfractions.