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Fish oil supplements, which are commonly used to reduce cardiovascular risk, have been found to potentially increase the risk of heart attack and stroke among individuals with good cardiovascular health, according to a study published in BMJ Medicine. The study, which utilized data from the UK Biobank on 415,737 individuals, found that those without known cardiovascular disease who regularly took fish oil supplements had a 13% higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation and a 5% higher risk of experiencing a stroke compared to non-users. However, individuals with preexisting cardiovascular conditions who took fish oil supplements had a lower risk of progression to a heart attack or death.

It is suggested that the recommendation of fish oil supplements should be more tailored to individual patient profiles, potentially being more beneficial for those with existing cardiovascular conditions rather than for primary prevention in the general population. Dr. Adedapo Adeyinka Iluyomade, a preventative cardiologist, emphasized the importance of considering the use of prescription-grade fish oil rather than over-the-counter varieties for medical treatment. Additionally, consuming omega-3 fatty acids from sources like salmon may also provide cardiovascular benefits.

While some studies have suggested benefits such as reduced risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death from fish oil supplements, others have shown minimal or no significant impact on overall cardiovascular mortality. Elana Natker, a registered dietitian, recommends that patients consume at least 500mg of omega-3s per day, whether from fatty fish, supplements, or a combination of both. She also highlighted the need for further research to determine the mechanisms underlying the development and prognosis of cardiovascular events in individuals using fish oil supplements.

The study authors noted the need for further research to elucidate the precise mechanisms associated with the use of fish oil supplements in the development and prognosis of cardiovascular events. Specifically, more human clinical studies are needed to establish a potential causal relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and atrial fibrillation. Concerns have been raised about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation, but the risk appears to be minimal with daily dosages of less than one gram. Meta-analyses of human clinical trials have demonstrated statistically significant reductions in heart attack and death from heart attack and coronary heart disease.

Overall, the findings of the study suggest that the recommendation of fish oil supplements for cardiovascular risk reduction should be more selective and personalized based on individual patient characteristics. While fish oil supplements may have different roles in the progression of cardiovascular disease, consuming omega-3 fatty acids from sources like fish or prescription-grade supplements may provide beneficial effects for certain individuals with existing cardiovascular conditions. It is essential for future research to explore the potential mechanisms and causality of cardiovascular events associated with the regular use of fish oil supplements.

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