Effects of chronic omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on human atrial mechanical function after reversion of atrial arrhythmias to sinus rhythm: reversal of tachycardia-mediated atrial cardiomyopathy with fish oils

Heart Rhythm. 2011 May;8(5):643-9. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Jan 11.


Background: Atrial mechanical stunning is a form of tachycardia-mediated atrial cardiomyopathy that manifests after reversion of persistent atrial arrhythmias to sinus rhythm.

Objectives: This study sought to examine whether chronic omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation with fish oils can reverse atrial mechanical stunning.

Methods: Patients undergoing reversion of persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter (AFL) to sinus rhythm were randomized to a control group (n = 26) or an omega-3 group (n = 23). The latter were prescribed 6 g/day of fish oil for ≥1 month prior to the procedure. Parameters of left atrial appendage function were compared immediately before and immediately after reversion.

Results: After fish oil intake for a mean of 70 days, the following were noted favoring the omega-3 group among both AF and AFL patients: (1) 2-fold higher serum omega-3 levels (P < .001), (2) less mean decrease in emptying velocity (e.g., AF: 8% vs. 32%, P = .02), (3) less mean decrease in appendage emptying fraction (e.g., AFL: 7% vs. 60%, P = .002), (4) lower incidence of new or increased spontaneous echocardiographic contrast (e.g., AF: 11% vs. 62.5%, P = .003), and (5) lower incidence of atrial mechanical stunning (e.g., AFL: 20% vs. 100%, P = .001). Omega-3 intake conferred protection against stunning in a multivariable analysis (odds ratio 0.18, P = .02).

Conclusion: Chronic fish oil ingestion in humans attenuates atrial mechanical stunning after reversion of atrial arrhythmias to sinus rhythm. This suggests that fish oils may target or even reverse underlying cellular and/or structural remodeling that occurs in response to persistent atrial arrhythmias.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00232232.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Atrial Flutter / therapy
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Electric Countershock
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / drug effects*
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Stunning / drug therapy*
  • Myocardial Stunning / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00232232