Effects of n-3 fatty acids from fish on premature ventricular complexes and heart rate in humans

Anouk Geelen*, Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Evert G. Schouten, Arie C. Maan, Martijn B. Katan, Peter L Zock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: A large body of evidence suggests that n-3 fatty acids from fish prevent fatal heart disease. They may be an effective and safe alternative to drug treatment for reducing the risk of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. Objective: We investigated the effect of n-3 fatty acids on heart rate and premature ventricular complexes (PVCs), a common form of arrhythmia that may trigger arrhythmias that are more life-threatening. Design: Patients (n = 84) with ≥1440 PVCs/24 h in a previous Holter recording were randomly assigned to receive 1.5 g/d of either n-3 fatty acids or placebo. Two 24-h Holter recordings were made at baseline, and 2 were made after an intervention of ≈14 wk. Results: Treatment did not significantly affect the number of PVCs. The number decreased in the fish-oil group by 867/24 h more than it decreased in placebo group (95% CI: -3187, 1453). However, the mean 24-h heart rate was significantly affected, decreasing in the fish-oil group by a mean of 2.1 beats/min more than it decreased in the placebo group (95% CI: -3.9, -0.3). Conclusions: Supplementation with 1.5 g n-3 fatty acids/d from fish does not substantially suppress the number of PVCs in a patient population with frequent PVCs. However, n-3 fatty acids decreased heart rate by 2.1 beats/min, a significant decrease that predicts a lower risk of sudden death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-420
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambulatory electrocardiography
  • Arrhythmia
  • Fish oils
  • Heart rate
  • n-3 fatty acids
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Ventricular premature complexes


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