New research has shown fish oil may work better at preventing heart failure than a popular drug.
Study results: Italian researchers gave nearly 3,500 patients a daily omega-3 pill, derived from fish oils with nearly the same amount receiving placebo pills. Patients were followed for an average of four years.
In the group of patients taking the fish oil pills, 1,981 died of heart failure or were admitted to a hospital with the problem. In the patients on placebo pills, 2,053 died or were admitted to the hospital for heart failure. ( Chronic heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently around the body. )
In a parallel study, the same team of Italian doctors gave 2,285 patients the drug Rosuvastatin, also known as Crestor, and gave placebo pills to 2,289 people. Patients were also tracked for about four years. The doctors found little difference in heart failure rates between the two groups.
Comparing the results from both studies, the researchers concluded fish oil is slightly more effective than the drug because the oil performed better against a placebo than did Crestor.
"It's a small benefit, but we should always be emphasizing to patients what they can do in terms of diet that might help," said Dr. Richard Bonow, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago, and past president of the American Heart Association.
Even though the results were “small”, one must also include the side effects of the drug versus those of fish oil.