Taking fish oil may reduce fatal heart attack risks by 8%, study finds

Fish oil IS good for your heart: Taking daily supplements lowers the risk of fatal heart attacks by 8%, study finds

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may reduce inflammation  
  • Inflammation damages blood vessels and raises risks of heart disease and stroke
  • But research on the effects of fish oil on the heart has yielded mixed results 
  • The latest Harvard study examined data on over 120,000 adults 
  • People who took the supplements were at an 8% lower risk of fatal heart attacks, but were no less likely to have strokes  

Omega-3 fish oil found in salmon and tuna lowers the risk of heart diseases and reduces the risk of fatal heart attacks by eight percent – but has no effect on strokes, a new study found.

The fatty acid rich oil supplements were seen to be particularly good at preventing heart attack, death from coronary heart disease.

However, research – which reviewed several previous trials – revealed they didn’t affect the risk of stroke.

Clinical trials analysed Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the USA revealed the link after trialing the supplements and compared them to a placebo.

Omega-3 fish oil supplements may not be everything they’re cracked up to be – such as protective against stroke – but they do reduce fatal heart attack risks, new research says 

What’s more, higher doses of omega-3 fish oil reduced the risk even more.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Author Yang Hu, a postdoctoral fellow from Harvard University, said: ‘This meta-analysis provides the most up-to-date evidence regarding the effects of omega-3 supplementation on risk of multiple CVD outcomes.

‘We found significant protective effects of daily omega-3 supplementation against most CVD outcome risks and the associations appeared to be in a dose-response manner.’

Despite the positive result, and studies showing a link between eating fish and lower heart disease risk, results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) like the one at Harvard have been inconsistent – two reviews published last year didn’t show a clear benefit.


Most of the health claims surrounding fish oil involve the essential fatty acid omega-3.

Omega-3 is thought to have a positive, anti-inflammatory effect, which can benefit a number of heath conditions and protect people from disease. 

It is found in rich quantities in the flesh of oily fish including salmon and trout.   

These acids are important because the body cannot make them itself, so they much be provided by diet or supplements.   

Previous research has indicated that fish oil is most effective in supporting heart and brain health as well as reducing joint pain. 

But in this new broad analysis, the researchers that included three recently completed large-scale trials, which increased the sample size of 120,000 people from 13 trials from around the world. 

People who took daily omega-3 fish oil supplements, compared with those who took a placebo, lowered their risk for most heart disease except stroke, including an eight per cent reduced risk for heart attack and coronary heart disease (CHD) death.

The risk appeared even lower at dosages above the 840 mg a day – still higher than the normal 250 – 500mg.

Although safe doses are as high as 3,000mg per day.

With several million people experiencing heart problems worldwide each year, even small drops in risk could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Although just stocking up on supplements wont keep hear problems at bay. Unsurprisingly the oils are likely best used as part of a balanced diet.

 ‘Public health recommendations should focus on increasing fish consumption, having an overall heart-healthy diet, being physically active, and having other healthy lifestyle practices,’ noted Dr JoAnn Manson, senior study author and chief of the Division of Preventitive Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Nonetheless, she added: ‘This study suggests that omega-3 supplementation may have a role in appropriate patients.’

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