Since the first AHA Science Advisory "Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Lipids, and Coronary Heart Disease,"1 important new findings, including evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), have been reported about the beneficial effects of omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acids on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with preexisting CVD as well as in healthy individuals.2 New information about how omega-3 fatty acids affect cardiac function (including antiarrhythmic effects), hemodynamics (cardiac mechanics), and arterial endothelial function have helped clarify potential mechanisms of action. The present Statement will address distinctions between plant-derived (-linolenic acid, C18:3n-3) and marine-derived (eicosapentaenoic acid, C20:5n-3 [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6n-3 [DHA]) omega-3 fatty acids. (Unless otherwise noted, the term omega-3 fatty acids will refer to the latter.) Evidence from epidemiological studies and RCTs will be reviewed, and recommendations reflecting the current state of knowledge will be made with regard to both fish consumption and omega-3 fatty acid (plant- and marine-derived) supplementation. This will be done in the context of recent guidance issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the presence of environmental contaminants in certain species of fish.

Epidemiological and Observational Studies

Coronary Heart Disease

As reviewed by Stone,1 three prospective epidemiological studies within populations reported that men who ate at least some fish weekly had a lower coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rate than that of men who ate none.3–6 More recent evidence that fish consumption favorably affects CHD mortality, especially nonsudden death from myocardial infarction (MI), has been reported in a 30-year follow-up of the . . .

PMID: 12438303

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