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Prescription omega-3 fatty acid products: considerations for patients with diabetes mellitus

Authors Tajuddin N, Shaikh A, Hassan A, Avallone L

Received 24 September 2015

Accepted for publication 26 February 2016

Published 19 April 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 109—118


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ming-Hui Zou

Nadeem Tajuddin,1 Ali Shaikh,2 Amir Hassan2

1Department of Internal Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA; 2Clinic of Endocrinology, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and metabolic syndrome contribute to hypertriglyceridemia, which may increase residual risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with elevated triglyceride (TG) levels despite optimal low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels with statin therapy. Prescription products containing the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (OM3FAs) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are an effective strategy for reducing TG levels. This article provides an overview of prescription OM3FAs, including relevant clinical data in patients with T2DM and/or metabolic syndrome. Prescription OM3FAs contain either combinations of DHA and EPA (omega-3-acid ethyl esters, omega-3-carboxylic acids, omega-3-acid ethyl esters A) or EPA alone (icosapent ethyl). These products are well tolerated and can be used safely with statins. Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that all prescription OM3FAs produce statistically significant reductions in TG levels compared with placebo; however, differential effects on LDL-C levels have been reported. Products containing DHA may increase LDL-C levels, whereas the EPA-only product did not increase LDL-C levels compared with placebo. Because increases in LDL-C levels may be unwanted in patients with T2DM and/or dyslipidemia, the EPA-only product should not be replaced with products containing DHA. Available data on the effects of OM3FAs in patients with diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome support that these products can be used safely in patients with T2DM and have beneficial effects on atherogenic parameters; in particular, the EPA-only prescription product significantly reduced TG, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, Apo B, remnant lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-sensitivity CRP levels without increasing LDL-C levels compared with placebo. Ongoing studies of the effects of prescription OM3FAs on cardiovascular outcomes will help determine whether these products will emerge as effective add-on options to statin therapy for reduction of residual cardiovascular disease risk.

Keywords: docosahexaenoic acid, dyslipidemia, eicosapentaenoic acid, hypertriglyceridemia, icosapent ethyl, omega-3 fatty acids, triglycerides

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