A 2020 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings provides a comprehensive analysis on the role of omega-3 dosage on cardiovascular prevention. An in-depth review of 40 clinical trials, this meta-analysis provides evidence for consuming more EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fats.
The research concludes that EPA and DHA omega-3 intake is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events, the cause of 7.4 million deaths globally each year, and reduced risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), including fatal heart attack.
Specifically, the study found that EPA+DHA supplementation is associated with a statistically significant reduced risk of:
- Fatal myocardial infarction (35 percent)
- Myocardial infarction (13 percent)
- CHD events (10 percent)
- CHD mortality (9 percent)
Additionally, the researchers found that cardiovascular benefits appear to increase with dosage: an extra 1000 mg of EPA and DHA per day further decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease (5.8 percent) and heart attack (9.0 percent). The study looked at dosages of up to 5,500 mg/day.
In addition to dosage, the meta-analysis investigated other potential reasons for the variability in the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) over the years. Researchers looked at:
- The year of publication, which would indicate either differences due to study quality standards or the addition of modern cardiovascular prevention
- Baseline risk
- Whether the treatment included only EPA or EPA+DHA.
The paper found that, of all of these, only dosage mattered.
This research corroborates the results of an earlier meta-analysis from Harvard School of Public Health, published in fall 2019, that looked at EPA and DHA dosage using the 13 largest clinical studies. This new paper encompasses more than triple the number of studies, which represents the totality of the evidence to date and includes more than 135,000 study participants.
According to co-author and cardiologist Carl “Chip” Lavie, MD: “The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardioprotection. In addition to eating fatty fish, people should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements to help them reach total daily intake of 1000 to 2000 mg as a relatively low-cost, high-impact way to improve heart health with few associated risks."