A once-daily omega-3 fatty acids supplement did not reduce the risk of future cardiac events in elderly people who had survived a recent heart attack, according to a new study.

Investigators recruited more than 1,000 patients aged 70 to 82 who had been hospitalized within the past two months due to a heart attack. Most participants were taking statins and two blood thinner medications. Half received an omega-3 fatty acids oral supplement daily and half received a placebo.

In two years, there was no difference in the number of adverse cardiovascular experiences between the groups. Each had a 20% rate of events including death, heart attack, stroke, the need for bypass surgery or angioplasty, or hospitalization for heart failure. 

The results are particularly meaningful because effective prevention measures usually stand out in highly vulnerable groups such as this, said lead author Are A. Kalstad, M.D., of Oslo University Hospital in Norway.

“The fact that no indication of any impact from the omega-3 fatty acids were found in this group, along with the results of other recent neutral trials, suggests that omega-3 supplements are ineffective for cardiovascular prevention,” Kalstad said.

The study was presented Monday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2020 and published in the journal Circulation.