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Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation does not prevent serious vascular events in people with diabetes
  1. Emma F Magavern1,
  2. Teck K Khong1, DTB Associate Editor
  1. 1 Clinical Pharmacology, St George's, University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Teck K Khong, Clinical Pharmacolology, Institute of Medical & Biomedical Education, St George's University of London, London, UK; tkhong{at}sgul.ac.uk

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Commentary on: The ASCEND Study Collaborative Group. Effects of n-3 fatty acid supplements in diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med 2018;379:1540–50.

Commentary by: Dr Emma F Magavern and Dr Teck Khong Clinical Pharmacology, St George's, University of London, London, UK

Series Editor: Dr Teck Khong, DTB Associate Editor Clinical Pharmacology, St George's, University of London, London, UK

Key learning points

  • Although observational studies and meta-analyses have suggested consumption of oily fish can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, randomised controlled trials have shown conflicting results for primary prevention.

  • Daily n-3/omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (thought to be the key beneficial component of fish oil) in this study did not reduce vascular events in patients with diabetes but without known cardiovascular disease.

  • Results from this study, together with results of earlier randomised trials involving patients with and those without diabetes, do not support use of supplementation with n-3 fatty acids to prevent vascular events.

Summary

A large randomised control study with mean follow-up to 7.4 years found that daily supplementation with 840 mg of marine n-3 fatty acids (commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids), either with or without aspirin, did not decrease the risk of serious vascular, or specifically cardiovascular, events in patients with diabetes but without known cardiovascular disease.1

Overview

This randomised placebo-controlled multifactorial trial studied the effect of n-3 fatty acids daily for a mean of 7.4 years in 15 480 patients from the UK who had diabetes but without known cardiovascular disease.1 …

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