Several previous studies have suggested that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) can exert favourable effects in patients with heart failure, but the mechanisms involved are not fully understood.

This study was designed to investigate the effects of n-3 PUFA on circulating inflammatory markers and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in patients with heart failure. Seventy-six patients with heart failure were randomly assigned to receive 2 g/day of n-3 PUFA or placebo for 3 months.

Treatment with n-3 PUFA significantly decreased plasma levels of tumour necrosis factor, interleukin-6, intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and NT-proBNP. Left ventricular ejection fraction showed a small, non-significant improvement. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels decreased significantly in smokers after n-3 PUFA treatment.

Thus, n-3 PUFA can reduce levels of plasma inflammatory markers and NT-proBNP as biomarkers of risk stratification in patients with heart failure. n-3 PUFA may offer a novel therapy for heart failure.