Commissioned by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) and completed by Exponent Inc. and Van Elswyk Consulting, Inc., the study examined the effect of EPA+DHA, without upper dose limits and including food sources, on blood pressure in randomized controlled trials (RCTs). In addition, the study aimed to break away from past reviews, which according to researchers, were limited by narrow inclusion criteria and a restricted scope of analytical subgroups. Also, the meta-analysis included RCTs conducted within the last two years, unlike other recent evaluations. This review is the basis for the health claim petition submitted to FDA last December.
To conduct this assessment, random-effects meta-analyses were used to generate weighted group mean differences and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between the EPA+DHA group and the placebo group. Analyses were conducted for subgroups defined by key subject or study characteristics.
Of the 70 RCTs that were included, EPA+DHA supplementation reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the meta-analyses of all studies combined when compared with placebo. The strongest effects of EPA+DHA were observed among untreated hypertensive subjects, although blood pressure was also lowered among normotensive subjects. Researchers concluded that EPA+DHA reduces systolic blood pressure, while provision of ≥2 grams reduces diastolic blood pressure.
According to GOED, these results indicate omega-3 fatty acids can be as effective or more effective in lowering blood pressure than other lifestyle interventions, including restricting sodium and alcohol intake and increasing physical activity. Further, GOED said the decrease of 4.51 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure among those with high blood pressure could prevent an individual from having to take medication to control blood pressure levels or prevent an individual from moving toward a more progressive stage of hypertension.