An elevated resting heart rate is one of the strongest predictors of cardiovascular mortality and is independently associated with sudden cardiac death (SCD). Agents capable of reducing heart rate without significant side effects are therefore of particular interest for the prevention of SCD.

Recent human and animal studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce heart rate. Our work has shown that omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce membrane electrical excitability of the cardiac myocyte by lowering its resting membrane potential and the duration of the refractory period through inhibition of ion channels.

We propose that these actions may be the underlying mechanisms for the omega-3 fatty acid-induced reduction of heart rate observed in both humans and animals. The heart rate-lowering capability of omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to their preventive effect against SCD.