Saving Lives Post-MI, Enhancing the Treatment Repertoire for Secondary Prevention with Highly Purified Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Abstract

Enormous progress has been made in the management of acute myocardial infarction (MI) in the past 35 years.1 By common agreement, however, the single most significant factor contributing to this progress has been the development of an extensive and well-proven repertoire of medical therapies. The use of intravenous thrombolytics, aspirin, beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors has had a transforming influence on the immediate- and longer-term prospects for MI patients.

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Patients who have survived an acute MI are nevertheless a high-risk group with a life expectancy sometimes half that of their peers who have not experienced a similar event2 and a greatly increased risk for subsequent major cardiovascular events and death.3,4 It is likely, however, that sudden cardiac death is a major contributor to this situation.5 Sudden death has proved resistant to therapeutic innovation to a greater degree than atherothrombotic coronary disease. The need for an effective medical therapy to prevent sudden death is thus clear. A candidate therapy has recently emerged in the form of concentrated and highly purified omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (omega-3 (or n-3).

In the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell™Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)- Prevenzione study, use of highly purified omega-3 PUFAs at a dose of 1g per day was associated with a 45% reduction in risk of sudden death.7,8 This is an effect size that exceeds that of any other medical therapy studied for impact on sudden death and, importantly, was recorded in a trial in which total mortality was reduced significantly.6,7

The results of GISSI-Prevenzione identify highly purified, concentrated formulations of omega-3 PUFAs as an important addition to the treatment armamentarium in the secondary prevention of MI:

  • they address a major unmet need;
  • they are easily administered and well tolerated; and
  • they are appropriate for the general population of post-MI patients.


OMACOR is one such preparation. On the basis of the GISSI-Prevenzione results, OMACOR has been registered as ├óÔé¼´åİadjuvant treatment in secondary prevention after myocardial infarction, in addition to other standard therapy™, in several countries.9OMACOR is a pharmaceutical preparation of highly purified and concentrated omega-3 PUFAs containing 90% omega-3 PUFAs (omega-3 PUFAs) per gram.

Results of the GISSI - Prevenzione Trial
GISSI-Prevenzione was an investigator-led multicentre study undertaken to examine the impact of highly purified omega-3 PUFAs on outcomes post-MI in the context of contemporary preventive practice. The study was therefore designed to be as inclusive as possible. No age limits were specified and exclusion criteria were kept to a minimum. Patients with a recent MI (├óÔÇ░┬ñ3 months) were eligible to participate in GISSIPrevenzione provided they had no condition associated with poor short-term prognosis, no known contraindications to the study medications and no known congenital coagulation defect.7

Drugs were prescribed according to prevailing standard practice. In addition, patients were encouraged to adhere to recommended preventive measures, including a Mediterranean-style diet with a high content of fruit, fish and fibre, and a relatively low content of saturated fats.

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References
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