Embargoed until 11:05 a.m. CT/12:05 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

DALLAS, Nov. 13, 2020 — Taking omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3 supplements does not neither increase nor decrease the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to late-breaking research presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The virtual meeting is Friday, November 13 — Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.

Atrial fibrillation is a rapid, irregular heartbeat caused by chaotic electrical signals in the top chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, and it can lead to blood clots, strokes, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Atrial fibrillation risk increases with age, high blood pressure and heavy drinking and can be common among multiple, biologically related family members.

Evidence from previous observational studies has been conflicting, suggesting both risks and potential health benefits of fish oil — a source of omega-3 fatty acids — and vitamin D for atrial fibrillation.

«Once established, atrial fibrillation is difficult to treat and results in symptoms that can impair patients’ quality of life,» said Christine M. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., founding chair of the department of cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and lead author of this study. «Current treatment options have limited long-term success and significant risks, and there is a pressing need for preventive strategies.»

The VITAL Rhythm Trial is the first, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial investigating preventive therapies for atrial fibrillation. This trial evaluated whether supplementation with vitamin D3 (2000 IU/day) and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA:DHA in 1.2:1 ratio; 840mg/day) can reduce the risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to placebo.

The five-year study, from 2012 — 2017, included 25,119 adults, ages 50 and older who had no history of atrial fibrillation. About half of the participants were female, 21% were black, and the average age was 67. Atrial fibrillation diagnoses were established both by participant self-report and claims data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Electrocardiogram evidence and/or a physician’s report documenting a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation were required for confirmation.

During the trial follow-up period, 900 participants developed atrial fibrillation, 3.6% of the study population. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups who were assigned to supplemental EPA/DHA and/or vitamin D3 compared to individuals who were assigned to the placebo.

Albert added, «With regards to clinical care, these results do not support using marine omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin D to prevent atrial fibrillation. However, the results do provide reassurance that these supplements do not increase the overall risk of atrial fibrillation and appear to be generally safe for patients who are taking these supplements for other reasons.»

###

Co-authors are Nancy R. Cook, Sc.D.; Julie Pester, B.A; M. Vinayaga Moorthy, Ph.D.; Claire Ridge, M.P.H.; Jackie S. Danik, M.D., Dr.P.H.; Baris Gencer, M.D.; Hasan K. Siddiqi, M.D., M.S.C.R.; Chee Ng, M.D., Heike Gibson, Ph.D.; Samia Mora, M.D., M.H.S.; Julie E. Buring, Sc.D.; JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., Dr.P.H. Author disclosures are in the abstract.

This study was funded by a grant to Dr. Albert (R01HL116690) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Presentation:
Session: LBS.01. Heart Failure and Atrial Fibrillation: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutrients, and More

Additional Resources:

Multimedia is available on the right column of the release link
https://newsroom.heart.org/news/fish-oil-and-vitamin-d-supplements-not-effective-for-preventing-atrial-fibrillation?preview=87a29d13041f08bc2a02d0b398591f4d

Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Healthy Eating

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil)
Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical
Cardiovascular Disease

For more news at AHA Scientific Sessions 2020, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews

Statements and conclusions of studies that are presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers are available here, and the Association’s overall financial information is available here.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.