Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Health: A Comprehensive Review

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 May-Jun;61(1):76-85. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2018.03.006. Epub 2018 Mar 20.


The potential cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD) benefits of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (OM3) have been intensely studied and debated for decades. Initial trials were performed in patients with low use of maximal medical therapy for CVD, and reported significant mortality benefits with the use of 1 g/day OM3 intervention following myocardial infarction (MI). More recent studies, including cohorts of patients receiving modern guideline directed medical therapy for CVD, have often not shown similar benefits with OM3 use. We conducted a literature review using PubMed, professional society guidelines, specific journal databases including New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American College of Cardiology from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2017. References from selected articles were also reviewed, as well as key articles outside of the selected time-frame for their important findings or historical perspectives. Currently, there are no Class I recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) for the use of OM3, however, considering the safety of this therapy and beneficial findings of some modern studies (including patients with current maximal medical therapy for CVD), the AHA has recently expanded their list of Class II recommendations, in which treatment with OM3 for CVD benefit is reasonable. This review discusses the current state of the evidence, summarizes current professional recommendations, and provides recommendations for future research.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Coronary heart disease; Heart failure; Heart transplant; Myocardial infarction; Omega 3 index; Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; Omega 6; Sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Protective Factors
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Secondary Prevention / methods*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6