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Benefits of EPA/DHA Fish Oil in Heart Failure Patients with Depression By Dr Peter Alphonse, PhD

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 underscore 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.


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

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