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HealthDay News: Another Study Suggests Too Much Fish Oil Could Trigger A-Fib

HealthDay recently interviewed Christine M. Albert, MD, MPH, a Cedars-Sinai professor of Cardiology and chair of the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute, about taking fish oil supplements, which can be associated with an increased risk of developing a heart rhythm disorder.

Fish oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have long been thought to improve heart health. But recent research has yielded mixed results on the benefits and safety of these pills. Some studies have linked these supplements to a greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a common type of abnormal heart rhythm. Other studies have not.

Albert and a team of researchers wanted to clear up the confusion. They performed a meta-analysis, a review that combines the results of multiple scientific studies. "With a meta-analysis, you can see if there are effects not detected in a single trial," Albert told HealthDay.

In their review of more than 81,000 patients enrolled in seven clinical trials, the researchers found that patients taking more than one gram per day of omega-3 fatty acids had a 49% increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, compared to just 12% of patients who took one gram or less of the supplement per day. The analysis suggested that the risk of developing atrial fibrillation is dependent on the dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

For individuals who are taking omega-3 fatty acids, Albert recommended speaking with a doctor before deciding to stop, especially if the supplements have been prescribed. They also should keep an eye out for atrial fibrillation symptoms, such as a rapid, fluttering heartbeat and dizziness. "People with possible symptoms should tell their doctor," Albert told HealthDay.

She also urged caution in general when considering taking any supplement. "Think of it like taking a drug, and talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you," Albert told HealthDay.

Click here to read the complete article from HealthDay.