Effects of n-3 Fatty Acid Supplements in Elderly Patients After Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Circulation. 2021 Feb 9;143(6):528-539. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.052209. Epub 2020 Nov 15.


Background: High intake of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular events; however, this has not been confirmed in patients with a recent acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Elderly patients are at particularly increased cardiovascular risk after myocardial infarction, but few trials address this group specifically. Omega-3 fatty acids hold the potential to reduce cardiovascular events with limited adverse effects in this vulnerable group. The hypothesis was that daily addition of 1.8g n-3 PUFA to standard of care secondary prophylaxis in elderly patients who have survived an AMI would reduce the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events during 2 years follow-up.

Methods: The OMEMI trial (Omega-3 Fatty acids in Elderly with Myocardial Infarction) is an investigator-initiated, multicenter, randomized clinical trial adding 1.8 g n-3 PUFA (930 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 660 mg docosohexaenoic acid) versus placebo (corn oil) daily to standard of care in patients aged 70 to 82 years with recent (2-8 weeks) AMI. The primary endpoint was a composite of nonfatal AMI, unscheduled revascularization, stroke, all-cause death, heart failure hospitalization after 2 years. The secondary outcome was new atrial fibrillation. The safety outcome was major bleeding. Serum fatty acids were measured as biomarkers of adherence.

Results: In total, 1027 patients were randomized. Follow-up data were available for 1014 patients who were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Mean±SD age was 75±3.6 years, 294 (29%) were female, and mean triglycerides were 111.4±61.9 mg/dL. The primary endpoint occurred in 108 (21.4%) patients on n-3 PUFA versus 102 (20.0%) on placebo (hazard ratio, 1.08 [95% CI, 0.82-1.41]; P=0.60). The secondary endpoint occurred in 28 (7.2%) patients on n-3 PUFA versus 15 (4.0%) on placebo (1.84 [0.98-3.45]; P=0.06). Median changes in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were +87% and +16% for n-3 PUFA versus -13% and -8% for placebo. Major bleeding occurred in 54 (10.7%) and 56 (11.0%) in the n-3 PUFA and placebo groups, respectively (P=0.87). Similar results were found in per-protocol analysis (n=893).

Conclusions: We could not detect reduction in clinical events in our elderly patients with recent AMI who were treated with 1.8 g n-3 PUFAs daily for 2 years. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT01841944.

Keywords: aged; docosahexaenoic acids; fatty acids, omega-3; myocardial infarction; secondary prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01841944