The ω-3 fatty acids for Prevention of Post-Operative Atrial Fibrillation trial-rationale and design

Dariush Mozaffarian, Roberto Marchioli, Tim Gardner, Paolo Ferrazzi, Patrick O'Gara, Roberto Latini, Peter Libby, Federico Lombardi, Alejandro MacChia, Richard Page, Massimo Santini, Luigi Tavazzi, Gianni Tognoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postoperative atrial fibrillation/flutter (PoAF) commonly complicates cardiac surgery, occurring in 25% to 60% of patients. Postoperative atrial fibrillation/flutter is associated with significant morbidity, higher long-term mortality, and increased health care costs. Novel preventive therapies are clearly needed. In experiments and short-term trials, seafood-derived long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) influence several risk factors that might reduce risk of PoAF. A few small and generally underpowered trials have evaluated effects of ω-3-PUFAs supplementation on PoAF with mixed results. The OPERA trial is an appropriately powered, investigator-initiated, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multinational trial to determine whether perioperative oral ω-3-PUFAs reduces occurrence of PoAF in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Additional aims include evaluation of resource use, biologic pathways and mechanisms, postoperative cognitive decline, and safety. Broad inclusion criteria encompass a "real-world" population of outpatients and inpatients scheduled for cardiac surgery. Treatment comprises a total preoperative loading dose of 8 to 10 g of ω-3-PUFAs or placebo divided over 2 to 5 days, followed by 2 g/d until hospital discharge or postoperative day 10, whichever comes first. Based on anticipated 30% event rate in controls, total enrollment of 1,516 patients (758 per treatment arm) will provide 90% power to detect 25% reduction in PoAF. The OPERA trial will provide invaluable evidence to inform biologic pathways; proof of concept that ω-3-PUFAs influence cardiac arrhythmias; and potential regulatory standards and clinical use of this simple, inexpensive, and low-risk intervention to prevent PoAF.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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