Purpose of review: To provide an overview of the key earlier intervention studies with marine omega-3 fatty acids and to review and comment on recent studies reporting on mortality outcomes and on selected underlying mechanisms of action.
Recent findings: Studies relating marine omega-3 fatty acid status to current or future outcomes continue to indicate benefits, for example, on incident heart failure, congestive heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, and all-cause mortality. New mechanistic insights into the actions of marine omega-3 fatty acids have been gained. Three fairly large secondary prevention trials have not confirmed the previously reported benefit of marine omega-3 fatty acids towards mortality in survivors of myocardial infarction. Studies of marine omega-3 fatty acids in atrial fibrillation and in cardiac surgery-induced atrial fibrillation have produced inconsistent findings and meta-analyses demonstrate no benefit. A study confirmed that marine omega-3 fatty acids reduce the inflammatory burden with advanced atherosclerotic plaques, so inducing greater stability.
Summary: Recent studies of marine omega-3 fatty acids on morbidity of, and mortality from, coronary and cardiovascular disease have produced mixed findings. These studies raise new issues to be addressed in future research.