Omega-3 fish oil may prevent death and hospitalization from heart disease, but only for patients that have experienced a heart attack or heart failure.
A committee of cardiology experts says that the clinical evidence falls short of recommending that the general public take fish oil pills to curb the risks of developing cardiovascular disease. About 19 million Americans were taking the pills, either as a dietary supplement or a prescription treatment, as of 2012.
“People in the general population who are taking omega-3 fish oil supplements are taking them in the absence of scientific data that shows any benefit of the supplements in preventing heart attacks, stroke, heart failure or death for people who do not have a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease,” David Siscovick, MD, MPH, chair of the writing committee, said of the new advisory, published in the journal Circulation.
The committee reviewed randomized clinical trials that looked at whether fish oil pills were effective at preventing cardiovascular disease. In 2002, the American Heart Association issued a statement that the supplements are beneficial for people who have recently had a heart attack. The new advisory adds that people with heart failure may also benefit from fish oil.
You can read more about the benefits and risks of omega-3 fish oil pills here.