It has been the school of thought for many years that Fish Oils thinned the blood and that this blood thinning effect added to the risk for patients undergoing surgery especially for cardiac surgery patients where one of the dangers of cardiac surgery is uncontrolled fatal bleeding.
In a secondary analysis of data from the OPERA study (Omega-3 fatty acids for the Prevention of postoperative Atrial Fibrillation) where over 1,500 patients scheduled for cardiac surgery participated, this idea was tested. The treatment group was given large doses of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (6.5 grams to 8 grams) for up to 5 days before surgery and then the treatment group received 1.7 grams of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids on the morning of surgery. This maintenance dosage was continued until the participants were discharged from the hospital. The participants who were not in the treatment group were given a placebo. When reviewing the data, researchers applied the criteria for bleeding put forth by BARC (Bleeding Academic Research Consortium). Also the number of blood units need for transfusion was also reviewed.
Researchers found the higher the blood levels of EPA and DHA (Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids) was on the morning of surgery, the lower the risk for bleeding according the criteria from BARC. Additionally there was a significant reduction in the number of units of blood needed for transfusions for patients in the treatment group.
It is not understood exactly why researchers found lower risks in the group treated with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids since EPA has been shown to be an anticoagulant factor similar to the clotting inhabitation found with aspirin. Researchers believe that the Anti-Inflammatory activity of Omega-3 may be playing an important role in the study results.
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