Cardioprotective effects of ω-3 fatty acids

William S. Harris, James H. O'Keefe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The suggestion that marine ω-3 fatty acids might have beneficial cardiovascular effects was first made by epidemiologic studies in Greenland Inuits published in the late 1970s. These simple observations spawned hundreds of other studies which, taken together, strongly suggest a true cardioprotective effect of ω-3 fatty acids. The strongest evidence to date that ω-3 fatty acids may be palliative has come from the publication of three randomized clinical trials, all of which reported benefits to patients with preexisting coronary artery disease. The most convincing of these was the GISSI-Prevezione study in which 5654 patients with coronary artery disease were randomized to either ω-3 fatty acids (850 mg/d) or usual care. After 3.5 years, those taking the ω-3 fatty acids had experienced a 20% reduction in overall mortality and a 45% decrease in risk for sudden cardiac death. These findings support the view that relatively small intakes of ω-3 fatty acids are indeed cardioprotective, and suggest that they may operate by stabilizing the myocardium itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-12
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition in Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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