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Fish Oil and Atrial Fibrillation

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Have you been told that taking fish oil supplements is good for your heart health? If so, you definitely are not alone.

Previously thought to be an effective supplement for supporting the healthy function of the cardiovascular system, new research into high dose OMEGA-3 fatty acid supplementation has shown that this practice may actually be increasing your risk of developing common heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation.

As an electrophysiologist, I wanted to share some of the most relevant research on this topic. Here is everything I want you to know about high dose fish oil supplementation:

What are Fish Oil Supplements?

Fish oil supplements are currently one of the most commonly recommended supplements worldwide. Available as oil-filled capsules or as a drinkable liquid, fish oil is a product sourced from a variety of different fish species, including:

  • Mackerel

  • Tuna

  • Herring

  • Anchovies

  • Cod

Full of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which the human body cannot create on its own, fish oil is marketed as a supplement that supports cardiac and cognitive health. However, these claims may lack substantial medical research to support them.

Fish Oil and Heart Health

First explored in the 80s and 90s, it became common for fish oil prescription medications to be used to treat people living with high triglyceride levels. According to the American Heart Association, prescription OMEGA-3 fatty acids can be taken in low doses to achieve a reduction of triglyceride levels of up to 20-30%. To date, this appears to be the only definitively proven health benefit of taking fish oil in a controlled and monitored setting.

So, while there was limited medical support for using these supplements for a very specific purpose, many supplement companies looked to capitalize on the hype. Because of this, the market in the early 2000s became inundated with hundreds of different products, all containing higher doses of fish oil than prescription-strength options, claiming that they can benefit generalized cardiovascular health.

Do Fish Oil Supplements Increase Your Risk of Developing AFib?

As more research has been done to explore the connection between fish oil supplements and cardiac health, it has been shown that this supplement may not be heart-healthy after all.

In a study published in 2021, a meta-analysis was conducted to explore the potential link between long-term high-dose fish oil supplementation and an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Of the seven studies assessed, it was found that patients who regularly took fish oil supplements over an average study period of 4.9 years, were more likely to develop symptoms of atrial fibrillation when compared to the control groups who did not. Additionally, participants who took more than 1g/day of fish oil were at an even higher risk of experiencing a heart arrhythmia, suggesting that higher doses of the supplement could pose even greater risks to regular users. Overall, the higher the dosage of fish oil consumption, the higher the risks of developing atrial fibrillation.

In another study conducted in 2021, researchers aimed to determine whether or not fish oil supplementation could act as a preventative agent for developing atrial fibrillation later in life. Of the 25,119 participants who were given either a placebo pill, vitamin D tablet, or fish oil supplement over an average follow up period of 5.3 years, no notable reduction in risk of developing atrial fibrillation was noted with either fish oil or vitamin D.

How To Reverse Atrial Fibrillation Naturally

If you are interested in natural treatment options for atrial fibrillation and are highly motivated in improving your symptoms naturally, to reduce your need for medications or even procedures, then take a look at my one-of-a-kind, online educational program, Take Control Over AFib.

Lifestyle modifications and reducing inflammation are essential components of the long-term management of atrial fibrillation. Addressing the source cause of atrial fibrillation can lead to a significant benefit for most AFib patients. Targeted lifestyle modifications can reduce your symptoms, reduce your reliance on medications or procedures, and even improve the long-term success rate of a catheter ablation procedure for AFib. However, most patients are not given instructions or tips on how to accomplish these essential lifestyle modifications in an AFib targeted style.

This is exactly why I created the Take Control Over AFib Program, to give people a step-by-step plan to improve and potentially reverse atrial fibrillation naturally.

Thinking about lifestyle modifications is easy, but putting in place a system to keep you committed to achieve real results takes time and dedication, and with my step-by-step plan, we can achieve powerful and long-lasting results together.

The Take Control Over AFib Online Program is currently only available in English Language.

Learn More About The Take Control Over AFib Program Here

The Bottom Line

So what does all of this information mean in terms of your personal health needs?

Whether you are choosing to take fish oil supplements as a preventative measure or have been diagnosed with a cardiac condition and are using them as a part of your treatment plan, there are steps you can take to keep yourself as safe as possible. My suggestions for those taking fish oil supplements are:

  • Pay attention to the dosage — If you are buying fish oil supplements from over the counter or at a supplement store, I highly advise spending the time to look at the dosage of your product. With research indicating that higher dosages of the supplement do not necessarily result in better outcomes (and may actually be more dangerous in the long run), choosing lower-dose fish oil supplements is a better option when available. Try to take less than 1gram a day of fish oil if possible.

  • Stop taking them if you develop any symptoms or feel unwell — If you begin to feel sick or develop cardiac symptoms while taking fish oil supplements, stop taking them immediately. If your symptoms persist, be sure to seek medical attention for additional support.

  • Speak to your primary care provider — If you are on the fence about taking fish oil supplements, I highly recommend chatting with your primary care provider to see if they will be a good fit for your needs. For those diagnosed with a pre-existing cardiac condition, I also advise speaking with your cardiologist for additional input.

Putting It All Together

As one of the most popular supplements available on the market today, it is no wonder that so many people take fish oil products on a daily basis. But, as a supplement with little supporting research into its benefits and new research showing possible risks, I highly recommend reconsidering if this supplement is the best fit for your current health needs.

I hope this article is a helpful resource for anyone looking to learn more about how to best treat their atrial fibrillation and take good care of their cardiovascular health.



See All My Top Recommended AFib Products on Amazon in One Place. Click Here.

Atrial Fibrillation from A to Z. Everything you need to know about AFib in a single video.

Can AFib be Reversed with Diet? Find Out More in this Video.

Learn more about the Take Control Over AFib Program here. 

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