There is considerable discrepancy regarding the protective effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 PUFAs) in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) from the early-phase clinical randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We conducted a meta-analysis of RCTs to address this issue.

Pubmed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and EMBASE databases (∼May 2013) were systematically searched. Odds ratios (OR) and associated 95% CI were retrieved by using random-effect model according to heterogeneity. A total of 14 RCTs involving 16,338 individuals in the Omega-3 PUFAs group and 16,318 in the control group were identified. Patients assigned to Omega-3 PUFAs did not demonstrate satisfactory improvements on major cardiovascular events (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.01; P = 0.08; I2 = 46%). By contrast, the reduced risks of death from cardiac causes, sudden cardiac death and death from all causes (OR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80 to 0.96; P = 0.003; I2 = 0%; OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.76 to 0.98; P = 0.03; I2 = 29%; and OR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.99; P = 0.02; I2 = 6%; respectively) were shown.

Supplement of Omega-3 PUFAs in patients with CHD is not associated with a protective effect on major cardiovascular events, while it does exert beneficial effects in reducing death from cardiac causes, sudden cardiac death and death from all causes. However, with currently available cardio-protective therapies, whether dietary supplementation with Omega-3 PUFAs should be still considered in patients with CHD is currently debated.