Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: fish | oil | heart | attack | stop | taking | omega

Should I Stop Taking Fish Oil?

Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:20 AM

Question: I had a heart attack about 15 years ago. I’m a man who is 58. Afterward, I lost a lot of weight and got into much better shape. I also became a vegetarian. I have taken fish oil capsules every day since I came home from the hospital. My question is, can I stop taking it? I’d rather not take any drugs or supplements if I don’t have to.

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements sold in the U.S. and is intended to provide small doses of omega 3 fatty acids to people at risk for heart attacks. The best fish oils are pure and free of mercurial and other contamination. At the moment, the purest form is available by prescription as Lovaza. Lovaza is indicated for reduction of cardiovascular risk, especially in those with prior myocardial infarction (heart attack) and those with increased risks of heart attack. Many cardiac specialists personally use Lovaza as their preferred fish oil supplement, and will usually use a statin to enhance its cardiovascular protection. I happen to strongly believe in fish oil supplementation as a powerful tool in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in all adults.
A recently published study that seemed to question the value of fish oil has probably confused some people. An analysis of 14 clinical trials involving more than 20,000 patients with cardiovascular disease who had taken fish oil supplements for at least one year found that the fish oil supplements did not reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure or any other cardiovascular catastrophe. However, experts from Harvard School of Public Health (who I do agree with) say that the authors of the above study refuting the benefits of fish oil supplementation had excluded two large studies investigating omega-3 fatty acids that found beneficial effects of fish oil supplements.
You did not mention if you are taking medications after your heart attack such as statins. I hope you are. And also you should be on one baby aspirin daily, as long as you do not have allergies or a bleeding disorder.
If you have become vegetarian, and want to increase omega-3 without the need for supplements, you might want to add fish to your current diet. The American Heart Association currently recommends that people get their dose of omega-3 fatty acids from eating two servings a week of fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, or sardines. For pure vegetarians, a slightly different kind of omega-3 fatty acid (not as good a fish oil with respect to protection) can be found in flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, and canola oils.

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Fish oil for heart health should be continued, even if you've become a vegetarian after a heart attack.
Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:20 AM
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