Fish oil: is it good for you, bad for you or somewhere in between? While research suggests that both fish and fish oil do have many heart-healthy benefits, a recent study proved that fish oil supplements have no effect on atrial fibrillation. Let’s take a look at the results of this study, as well as some of the real benefits fish oil can offer you.

Fish Oil and Atrial Fibrillation

The study, known as AFFORD, was conducted by Canadian researchers from the Institute for Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec. For 16 months, researchers looked at a group of 337 people with atrial fibrillation who were not receiving treatment for their symptoms. Patients were divided in to two groups: those who took up to 4 grams of fish oil daily, and a control group taking a placebo.

Among those who took the fish oil supplements, 64.1-percent experienced symptoms of atrial fibrillation over the course of the 16-month study. The placebo group had similar results, with 63.2-percent reporting atrial fibrillation symptoms.

Researchers also discovered that fish oil, and the omega-3 fatty acids they contain, had no effect on oxidative stress or inflammation, which are two conditions often associated with atrial fibrillation. Researchers concluded that fish oil – even in large doses – has no effect on atrial fibrillation.

So What are the Benefits of Fish Oil?

Even though fish oil is not a cure-all for atrial fibrillation or heart rhythm abnormalities, it still has some heart-healthy benefits. According to the American Heart Association, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oil will reduce the risk of developing heart rhythm abnormalities among those with healthy hearts. Other benefits include lower triglyceride levels, a slight blood pressure reduction and slowed development of the plaque that leads to atherosclerosis.

Moreover, fish is a lean meat, low in saturated fats, and it packs a protein punch, which means that everyone can benefit from a serving or two of fish per week. As to fish oil supplements, the American Heart Association recommends that you speak to your doctor. Healthy people normally get all the omega-3 fatty acids they need simply by adding two or more servings of fish to their diets weekly. However, those with coronary artery disease may need a little more, which is where fish oil supplements come in. The AHA recommends that anyone thinking of taking more than 3 grams of fish oil per day should only do so under a doctor’s supervision, since high doses may have adverse effects like bleeding complications in certain people.

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Dr. Dilip Mathew is a highly skilled electrophysiologist and heart rhythm consultant serving the entire sun coast, including Tampa, Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, Sun City Center and Plantation.