Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation and cardiovascular outcomes: do formulation, dosage, and baseline cardiovascular risk matter? An updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Manuela Casula, Elena Olmastroni, Marta Gazzotti, Federica Galimberti, Alberto Zambon, Alberico L. Catapano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The recent publication of the REDUCE-IT study has reopened the debate about the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk of cardiovascular (CV) events. This meta-analysis aims at investigating the effect of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) administration on CV outcomes in published randomized clinical trials (RCTs), with a focus on the role of dose, type of n-3 PUFA, and different CV risk at baseline. This meta-analysis was conducted according to the PRISMA reporting guidelines. PubMed, Cochrane and EMBASE were searched since inception to March 2020. Inclusion criteria were: (1) RCTs; (2) including subjects with previous CV events; (3) administration of n-3 PUFA ≥ 1 g/day dosage for ≥1 year; (4) effects on all-cause mortality, cardiac death, major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), fatal/nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI), or fatal/nonfatal stroke reported. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95 % confident intervals (95 %CI) were estimated. 16 RCTs were included in the meta-analysis accounting for 81,073 participants. Supplementation of n-3 PUFA was associated with a significant risk reduction of cardiac mortality (OR 0.91 [95 % CI, 0.85−0.98]), MACE (OR 0.90 [95 % CI, 0.82−0.99]), and MI (OR 0.83 [95 % CI, 0.71−0.98]). In subgroup analyses, the risk reduction of cardiac mortality and MI was confirmed only in RCTs that enrolled patients in secondary prevention (-21 % and -31 %, respectively). Moreover, only the administration of more than 1 g per day of n-3 PUFA was effective in reducing the risk of cardiac death (-35 %), MACE (-24 %), and MI (-33 %). Finally, EPA + DHA supplementation was only associated with a significant risk reduction of cardiac death compared with EPA administered alone (-8 %). Conversely, the efficacy of EPA administered alone seemed to be greater in terms of risk reduction of MACE (-25 %) or MI (-30 %) than the combined EPA + DHA supplementation. The pharmacological approach with n-3 PUFA significantly improves cardiovascular outcomes, with higher benefit achieved by patients in secondary CV prevention, using more than 1 g/day, and taking EPA administered alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105060
JournalPharmacological Research
Volume160
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular outcomes
  • Meta-analysis
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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