Fish Oil and Stroke? More Fishy Stuff from Japan

I am on a fish oil kick lately with all the new research coming out. Here is another one! I put my thoughts at the end.

Reduction in the recurrence of stroke by eicosapentaenoic acid for hypercholesterolemic patient: subanalysis of the JELIS trial [Stroke. 2008]

Stroke. 2008 Jul;39(7):2052-8. Epub 2008 May 1.

Reduction in the recurrence of stroke by eicosapentaenoic acid for hypercholesterolemic patients: subanalysis of the JELIS trial. Tanaka K, Ishikawa Y, Yokoyama M, Origasa H, Matsuzaki M, Saito Y, Matsuzawa Y, Sasaki J, Oikawa S, Hishida H, Itakura H, Kita T, Kitabatake A, Nakaya N, Sakata T, Shimada K, Shirato K; JELIS Investigators, Japan.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The JELIS trial examined the preventive effect of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) against coronary artery diseases. Hypercholesterolemic patients received statin only (no EPA group: n=9319) or statin with EPA (EPA group: n=9326) for around 5 years. EPA significantly suppressed the incidence of coronary events in previous analysis. Herein, we investigated the effects of EPA on the primary and secondary prevention of stroke.

METHODS: We conducted a subanalysis of JELIS with respect to stroke incidence in the primary and secondary prevention subgroups defined as those without and with a prior history of stroke using Cox proportional hazard ratios, adjusted for baseline risk factor levels.

RESULTS: As for primary prevention of stroke, this occurred in 114 (1.3%) of 8862 no EPA group and in 133 (1.5%) of 8841 EPA group. No statistically significant difference in total stroke incidence (Hazard Ratio, 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.95 to 1.22) was observed between the no EPA and the EPA groups. In the secondary prevention subgroup, stroke occurred in 48 (10.5%) of 457 no EPA group and in 33 (6.8%) of 485 EPA group, showing a 20% relative reduction in recurrent stroke in the EPA group (Hazard Ratio, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.64 to 0.997).

CONCLUSIONS: Administration of highly purified EPA appeared to reduce the risk of recurrent stroke in a Japanese population of hypercholesterolemic patients receiving low-dose statin therapy. Further research is needed to determine whether similar benefits are found in other populations with lower levels of fish intake.

My Notes: In general I am not a huge fan of subanalysis since statistically speaking you can end up with some weaker conclusions, but still evidence that the fish oil EPA (the other fish oil is DHA) are healthy. It should also be noted that these patients were on a statin drug (to lower cholesterol), so it is unclear if you are NOT on a statin if the results would be similar.

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