A successful large-scale study could lead to a new prescription drug becoming available in Canada to treat patients at risk for heart disease
By Katrina Caruso
In August, we reported that while omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fish oil can help protect your heart, omega-3 fish oil supplements won’t do you much good. Now a large clinical trial has demonstrated that a prescription pill—not a supplement—containing high levels of EPA omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil can cut the risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes by 25%.
The trial, known as REDUCE-IT, involved more than 8,100 people with a history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes who maintained normal cholesterol levels by taking statins but who still had high levels of triglycerides, a fat in the blood that increases the risk for heart disease. Patients were followed for an average of five years. Compared with a group who took placebos, the patients receiving the drug saw their relative risk drop by 25%. The trial also showed that the drug was safe, with minimal side effects.
Not yet approved or available in Canada, the drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is available in the United States under the name Vascepa; the clinical trial’s findings could lead to it being more frequently prescribed and to its being approved in Canada.
The REDUCE-IT trial’s results will be presented at the 2018 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in November, and the research will be published in an upcoming peer-reviewed journal.