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Schacky, Clemens von (February 2014): Omega-3 Index and Cardiovascular Health. In: Nutrients, Vol. 6, No. 2: pp. 799-814




Recent large trials with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the cardiovascular field did not demonstrate a beneficial effect in terms of reductions of clinical endpoints like total mortality, sudden cardiac arrest or other major adverse cardiac events. Pertinent guidelines do not uniformly recommend EPA + DHA for cardiac patients. In contrast, in epidemiologic findings, higher blood levels of EPA + DHA were consistently associated with a lower risk for the endpoints mentioned. Because of low biological and analytical variability, a standardized analytical procedure, a large database and for other reasons, blood levels of EPA + DHA are frequently assessed in erythrocytes, using the HS-Omega-3 Index((R)) methodology. A low Omega-3 Index fulfills the current criteria for a novel cardiovascular risk factor. Neutral results of intervention trials can be explained by issues of bioavailability and trial design that surfaced after the trials were initiated. In the future, incorporating the Omega-3 Index into trial designs by recruiting participants with a low Omega-3 Index and treating them within a pre-specified target range (e.g., 8%-11%), will make more efficient trials possible and provide clearer answers to the questions asked than previously possible.