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Benefits of EPA/DHA Fish Oil in Heart Failure Patients with Depression

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Patients with CHF and depression are known to have low circulating omega-3 fatty acids concentrations which is typically linked to a higher risk of mortality. Evidence from a recent pilot study has shown the positive effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fish oil supplement in depressed coronary heart failure (CHF) patients.

In this clinical study, researchers evaluated the effects of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on blood omega-3 levels, symptoms associated with depression, including psychosocial factors and assessed other chronic heart failure (CHF)-related functional measures.
Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled approach, the researchers randomized 108 patients with CHF and major depressive disorder (score ≥18 on the Hamilton Depression Scale) into three groups and administered a 2g/day dosage containing 400mg/200mg EPA/DHA fish oil, 2g/day dosage of very high EPA fish oil and a placebo for 12 weeks.

The results observed from this study revealed that the blood levels of all omega-3 variables were significantly increased in the omega-3 groups compared to the placebo group. Although, there were no between-group differences with overall depression measurements, scores on the social functioning measurement of the 36-item Short Form Health Survey were found to be profoundly improved in the 400/200 EPA/DHA and EPA groups compared with the placebo group. Notably, increased omega-3 indices were associated with improved cognitive depressive symptoms.

Commentary: 
The results from the study are quite encouraging and underscores the beneficial role of omega-3 supplementation in treating cognitive depressive symptoms and improving social function. Nevertheless, future long-term studies with large sample sizes and additional assessment criteria are necessary to validate the findings of this pilot study.

Reference: 
Jiang, W., et al. JACC Heart Fail. 2018 Aug 7. pii: S2213-1779(18)30226-9.