The Importance of Educating Patients on Fish Oil Supplements vs Icosapent Ethyl

Learn more about the importance of educating patients on the differences between store-bought fish oil supplements and therapies derived from omega-3 such as icosapent ethyl (Vascepa).

The benefits of supplements derived from omega-3 fish oil have been one of, if not, the most researched and discussed topics in cardiovascular care. With omega-3 supplements becoming widely available dating back to the 1980s, millions of Americans and patients throughout the world have turned to these supplements in hopes of improving their heart health.

Whether or not consumers can see real benefit from these store-bought supplements, more recent research has culminated in the approval of icosapent ethyl (Vascepa)—a highly concentrated form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—in late 2019. During 2020, cardiologists learned even more about specific components of fish oil supplements and how they impact cardiovascular health.

Building on the landmark REDUCE-IT trial, researchers have demonstrated a clear link between levels of EPA achieved and cardiovascular benefit derived from use of icosapent ethyl. Additionally, results of the long-awaited STRENGTH trial indicate the omega-3 carboxylic acid (Epanova) from AstraZeneca, which was a combination of EPA and DHA, failed to show cardiovascular benefit.

With a greater clinical understanding of potential benefits derived from supplements or therapies derived from omega-3, educating patients on these differences offers an opportunity to make care more inclusive and further a patient’s understanding of specific aspects of their treatment regimen.

For more on the importance of educating patients on fish oil supplements and the clinical benefit derived from agents like icosapent ethyl, check out this recent interview Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and chair of the REDUCE-IT trial.