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Study Suggests Fish Oil Supplements May Pose Risk of Stroke and Heart Issues

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A recent study has raised concerns about the use of fish oil supplements for heart health, indicating that they may not be as beneficial as previously believed. While these supplements, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are commonly used to support cardiovascular health, the study suggests that regular use could potentially increase the risk of stroke and atrial fibrillation (AFib) in individuals without prior heart conditions.

Study Suggests Fish Oil Supplements May Pose Risk of Stroke and Heart Issues

The findings, based on a large-scale study involving over 415,000 participants in the UK, suggest a possible association between fish oil supplement intake and heightened risks of AFib and stroke among those with no preexisting heart problems. Notably, the study spanned an average of 12 years, offering significant insight into the long-term effects of fish oil supplementation.

Cardiologists and experts in cardiovascular health caution against the indiscriminate use of over-the-counter fish oil supplements, emphasizing that they are rarely recommended and are not endorsed by professional medical societies. Concerns also arise regarding the purity and consistency of these supplements, as some may contain contaminants like mercury.

While fish oil supplements have traditionally been touted for their cardiovascular benefits, recent studies have yielded mixed results, with some indicating negligible benefits or potential harm, particularly concerning stroke and AFib. This underscores the need for cautious consideration when it comes to supplementation.

However, it’s worth noting that individuals with existing heart disease may still benefit from fish oil supplementation, as prescription versions such as Vascepa and Lovaza are tailored to address specific risk factors like high triglyceride levels. Nevertheless, even prescription-strength fish oil supplements may carry risks of AFib and stroke, prompting doctors to exercise caution.

Ultimately, experts recommend prioritizing dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids over supplements. Plant-based options like algae, seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts offer rich sources of omega-3s without the potential risks associated with supplements. Moreover, testing for omega-3 levels can help individuals determine whether supplementation is necessary, ensuring personalized and informed choices regarding fish oil intake.