However, larger studies are needed to really see if this supplement helps prolong life, Gheorghiade said. "It's promising, but it's not conclusive," he said. "But it would be a mistake not to look at the value of the macro and micronutrients in the management of heart failure."
Gheorghiade doesn't recommend that people take large amounts of this supplement in hopes of staving off heart disease. Whether or not one should take a supplement is a topic that patients and their doctors should discuss, he said.
Treatment needs to be tailored to individual patients, he pointed out. "This is not a cookbook," Gheorghiade added.
Dr. W.H. Wilson Tang, an assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of an accompanying journal editorial, said that "studies on omega-3 fatty acid in heart failure still have not been effectively tested, based on limitations on their designs."
Tang added, "We need to know what are potential dose and timing of intervention before we can effectively demonstrate whether an intervention works or not."
The current study suggested that doses far higher than commonly used may have some effect not seen in the larger studies, he said.
"That being said, whether every treatment approach needs mega-trials to demonstrate effectiveness is now being increasingly challenged. The current debate is whether a relatively safe intervention such as fish oil should be recommended based on the current data -- it is currently written in some guidelines but not too many doctors are actively recommending them," Tang said.
Douglas "Duffy" MacKay, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents the supplement industry, said that "all adults should get 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, from either diet or sup
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