Omega-3 may reduce heart patients’ hospital stay, study finds

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

'The reduced length of hospital stay in this study was associated with the tendency of the omega-3 group to experience a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation.'  (© iStock.com)
'The reduced length of hospital stay in this study was associated with the tendency of the omega-3 group to experience a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation.' (© iStock.com)

Related tags Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty Myocardial infarction Essential fatty acid Nutrition

Cardiac surgery patients given omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) beforehand found their hospital stay reduced by up to 2.4 days, an analysis has suggested. 

The omega-3 supplementation also reduced post-operative cardiac complications such as experiencing an irregular heartbeat.

The findings imply that increasing the intake of omega-3s result in reduction in hospital utilisation and overall healthcare costs, adding to existing evidence that points to the supplement’s anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic properties.

Study details

A meta-analysis, published in Clinical Nutrition, ​focused on 11 RCT's with 1038 patients. No effect of omega-3 PUFA on the primary outcome - length of stay (LOS) in the intensive care unit (ICU) - was found.

The changes were found in the secondary outcomes - LOS and postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) incidence. No effects were found on mortality or MV duration.

"Omega-3s are well known for their benefits on cardiovascular health, including a reduced risk of arrhythmias and reduced mortality in patients with recent myocardial infarction or cardiac failure,"​ said co-author Dr Pascal Langlois from Sherbrooke University.

"Furthermore, they exhibit interesting anti-inflammatory properties and modulate the immune system."

doctor hospital
The findings imply that increasing the intake of omega-3 oils result in reduction in hospital utilisation and overall healthcare costs. (© iStock.com)

Several randomised controlled trials​ (RCT) have found contradictory​ results for pre-operative omega-3 PUFA administration.

However, other studies have found that pre-operative omega-3-PUFA could be a promising strategy to control the responses to cardiac surgery.

“The reduced length of hospital stay in this study was associated with the tendency of the omega-3 group to experience a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation,”​ said the study’s authors.

“The exact mechanism associated with this benefit is unknown, but it is widely believed to be due to the omega-3s' anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic properties."

Source: Clinical Nutrition

Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2016.05.013

“Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiac surgery patients: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis.”

Authors: Pascal Langlois, Gil Hardy, William Manzanares

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