Fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acids and risk of heart failure: a meta-analysis

Clin Nutr. 2012 Dec;31(6):846-53. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.05.010. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Background & aims: While marine omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a lower mortality in heart failure patients, data on omega-3 and incident heart failure are inconsistent. We systematically reviewed the evidence on the association of omega-3 fatty acids and fish intake with the incidence of heart failure in this meta-analysis.

Methods: We identified relevant studies by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases up to August 31, 2011 without restrictions and by reviewing reference lists from retrieved articles.

Results: A total of 176,441 subjects and 5480 incident cases of heart failure from 7 prospective studies were included in this analysis. Using random effect model, the pooled relative risk for heart failure comparing the highest to lowest category of fish intake was 0.85 (95% CI; 0.73-0.99), p = 0.04; corresponding value for marine omega-3 fatty acids was 0.86 (0.74-1.00), p = 0.05. There was no evidence for heterogeneity across studies of fish consumption (I(2) = 8%). In contrast, there was modest heterogeneity for omega-3 fatty acid analysis (I(2) = 44%). Lastly, there was no evidence for publication bias.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis is consistent with a lower risk of heart failure with intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids. These observational findings should be confirmed in a large randomized trial.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fishes
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3