Conference Coverage

Omega-3s tame inflammation in elderly COVID-19 patients



Inflammatory markers improve

As noted before, there was a significant decline in NLR from baseline among patients randomized to omega-3 (P = .02) but no corresponding decrease in patients assigned to placebo infusions.

“The significant decrease was largely driven by an increase in the lymphocyte count in the omega-3 treated group (P = .004), whereas lymphocytes did not significantly change,” Dr. Bäck said.

As expected, patients in the omega-3 group had pronounced increases in omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.

The metabolism of fatty acids also differed markedly between the groups, with a significant decrease in the omega-3 group but not the placebo group in proinflammatory mediators, and an increase in precursors to proresolving mediators, Dr. Bäck noted.

AFib concerns

In a question-and-answer part of the session, a physician who identified herself as “Senya from Russia” questioned the safety of omega-3 treatment in this population, “because recently there was a meta-analysis which showed that omega-3 fatty acids will increase the risk of atrial fibrillation in older adults especially.”

The systematic review and meta-analysis she referred to, published in Circulation and reported on by this news organization, showed that, among 81,210 patients with a mean age of 65 enrolled in seven randomized controlled trials, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was associated with a 25% increase in risk for atrial fibrillation. This risk appeared to be higher in trials testing doses greater than 1 g/day, according to the paper.

“This was not monitored in this study,” Dr. Bäck replied. “It is true that the meta-analysis showed an increased incidence of atrial fibrillation, so it would be something to monitor in case this trial would be expanded to a larger population.”

The study was supported by the Karolinska Institute. Dr. Bäck disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on


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