A recent study has stated that fish oil - which contains the omega-3s (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - has no impact on perioperative (time period of surgical procedure) bleeding in surgery patients.
The findings appear in the journal Circulation.
The researchers, on the other hand, stated that higher blood omega-3 levels were associated with lower risk of bleeding.
To explore the question of whether high-dose EPA+DHA supplementation affects the risk for bleeding in surgery patients, researchers conducted a secondary analysis of the Omega-3 fatty acids for the PrEvention of post-opeRative Atrial fibrillation (OPERA) study.
For this study, 1516 patients scheduled for cardiac surgery were randomized to omega-3s or placebo. The dose was 6.5-8 grams of EPA+DHA over 2 to 5 days before surgery, and then 1.7 grams per day beginning on the morning of surgery and continuing until discharge.
There was no effect of omega-3 treatment on the primary outcome (post-op atrial fibrillation), but surprisingly there was a significant reduction in the number of units of blood needed for transfusions.
"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 Dr. Bill Harris, one of the authors on this paper. "In other words, bleeding in surgery (and in normal life) is not a safety concern for omega-3 supplements."
Omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, are important for heart, brain, eye and joint health. Unfortunately, most people don't get enough of these valuable fatty acids, which can increase their risk of several of the most serious health issues.
The Omega-3 index is expressed as a percent of total red blood cell (RBC) fatty acids and is a long-term, stable marker of omega-3 status that accurately reflects tissue levels of EPA and DHA. An Omega-3 Index between 8 percent and 12 percent is considered the optimal range because at these levels your risk of fatal cardiovascular disease decreases dramatically.