Fish oil, containing the omega-3s, lowers the risk of bleeding during surgery, say researchers, challenging current recommendations to stop fish oil.
Fish oil is among the most common natural supplement for treatment of hypertriglyceridemia or prevention of cardiovascular disease.
However, concerns about theoretical bleeding risk have led to recommendations that patients should stop taking fish oil before surgery or delay in elective procedures for patients taking fish oil by some healthcare professionals.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, found that higher blood omega-3 levels — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — were associated with lower risk of bleeding.
For the study, 1,516 patients scheduled for cardiac surgery were randomised to omega-3s or placebo.
The dose was 6.5-8 grams of EPA+DHA over two-five days before surgery, and then 1.7 grams per day beginning the morning of surgery and continuing until discharge.
The findings showed that there was a significant reduction in the number of units of blood needed for transfusions.
In another analysis, the higher the blood EPA+DHA level on the morning of surgery, the lower the risk for bleeding, according to the Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) criteria.
“The researchers in this study concluded that these findings support the need to reconsider current recommendations to stop fish oil or delay procedures for people on fish oil before cardiac surgery,” said Bill Harris, Founder of OmegaQuant.
While Omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, are important for heart, brain, eye and joint health, most people do not get enough of these valuable fatty acids, which can increase their risk of the most serious health issues.