Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils and cardiovascular disease

Mol Cell Biochem. 2004 Aug;263(1-2):217-25.


Fish and fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Epidemiological studies have shown an inverse relation between the dietary consumption of fish containing EPA/DHA and mortality from coronary heart disease. These relationships have been substantiated from blood measures of omega-3 fatty acids including DHA as a physiological biomarker for omega-3 fatty acid status. Controlled intervention trials with fish oil supplements enriched in EPA/DHA have shown their potential to reduce mortality in post-myocardial infarction patients with a substantial reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death. The cardioprotective effects of EPA/DHA are widespread, appear to act independently of blood cholesterol reduction, and are mediated by diverse mechanisms. Their overall effects include anti-arrhythmic, blood triglyceride-lowering, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, endothelial relaxation, plus others. Current dietary intakes of EPA/DHA in North America and elsewhere are well below those recommended by the American Heart Association for the management of patients with coronary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotonic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cardiotonic Agents / chemistry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diet therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / blood
  • Mental Disorders / diet therapy
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Molecular Structure
  • Risk Factors


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils