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Fish Oil Not Effective for AFib Prevention

An open can of sardines with nutrient rich fish oil.

Although fish oil may have health benefits, Cedars-Sinai research suggests that neither consuming fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids nor taking vitamin D supplements has any effect in forestalling one of the most common and dangerous heart conditions: atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The discovery stems from a clinical trial involving more than 25,000 men and women from across the nation. Participants were randomly assigned a regimen of vitamin D, fish oil supplements or a placebo. During a more than five-year period, 3.6% were diagnosed with AFib. Receiving placebos or the real thing made no statistical difference. The trial results do not support taking fish oil or vitamin D supplements to prevent AFib. However, the supplements did not elevate the risk of the condition.

The abnormal rhythms of AFib cause the heart to contract irregularly—sometimes too quickly. Nearly 33 million people worldwide have the condition, which can lead to stroke and heart failure. But while fish oil and vitamin D do not help, other preventive measures might. And you can't go wrong reaching for a fishy snack like sardines—the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce overall heart disease risk. Lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure and moderating alcohol intake may lower the risk of AFib.