Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of hypertriglyceridaemia

Angela Pirillo, Alberico Luigi Catapano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypertriglyceridaemia (HTG) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease; high-risk patients with HTG, such as those with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, may benefit from hypolipidaemic therapies. Several lipid-lowering drugs act by reducing triglyceride (TG) levels, including fibrates, nicotinic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) dose-dependently reduce plasma TG levels; the effect tends to be greater in patients with higher TG levels at baseline. Evidence from clinical trials suggests that EPA + DHA doses of ≥ 2 g/day are required to achieve significant effects. The optimal TG-lowering doses of EPA + DHA are 3-4 g/day, with little evidence to support lipid-altering efficacy of doses of EPA and DHA <1 g/day. Predicted changes in fasting serum TG levels at the recommended dietary intakes of EPA and/or DHA of 200-500 mg/day are - 3.1% to - 7.2%. Reductions of plasma TG levels at the optimal doses are from 25-35% up to 45% in the presence of severely elevated TG levels (≥ 500 mg/dl; ≥ 5.65 mmol/l), along with a reduction in non-high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (non-HDL-C) and an increase in HDL-C. This observation has also been confirmed in statin-treated patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number2 SUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 2013


  • Diabetes
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Hypertriglyceridaemia
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Triglyceride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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