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Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid on lipoproteins in hypertriglyceridemia.


Purpose of review

The treatment of hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) with ω-3 fatty acid preparations adds a novel therapy to reduce cardiovascular disease. This review examines the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid on lipoproteins and the cardioprotective effects in HTG.

Recent findings

The evidence that ω-3 fatty acid therapy at prescription strength is effective and safe at lowering triglyceride levels is growing. Although EPA/docosahexaenoic acid formulations did lower triglyceride levels, an increase in low-density lipoproteins was observed and outcome data were mixed. More recent trials have shown that decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein can be achieved with EPA preparations. Although the cardiovascular outcomes data are not fully available, meta-analysis of available data reports protection against vascular disease.


The addition of ω-3 fatty acid treatment should be considered in patients with severe HTG as well as high-risk patients for atherosclerotic disease. Emerging data are supportive, but long-term outcome studies are still underway.

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