The association reached this conclusion by reviewing 17 randomized controlled trials involving patients with high triglyceride levels. People who were treated with 4 grams of prescription omega-3 fatty acids daily, regardless of the brand, saw positive results, and the drugs were effective in reducing triglyceride levels regardless of whether people were on a statin to lower cholesterol.
The US Food and Drug Administration has only approved these prescription medications for people who have very high triglyceride levels, above 500 mg/dL. There are two prescription versions of these medications on the market, and the association didn’t recommend one form over the other.
“This is significant news and will likely change the way doctors practice,” Dr. Michael Miller, co-author of the AHA advisory, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in an emailed statement.
The advisory warns people who have high triglyceride levels not to treat their condition with fish oil supplements they might purchase at the grocery store. Such supplements are not regulated by the FDA and shouldn’t be used in place of medication.
What are triglycerides?
If your doctor sees that you have a high level of triglycerides, it could also be a sign of Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, a sign that your thyroid hormones are low, or an indication of a rare genetic condition. You may also have a high triglyceride level if you are taking certain medicines such as beta blockers or diuretics.
‘Pendulum swinging back on fish oil’
If that doesn’t lower patients’ triglycerides enough, then doctors may want to prescribe omega-3 fatty acids. Patients with these prescriptions are instructed to take these pills with food, to reduce the potential side effects of an upset stomach.