Background: Fish oils are the most widely used nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements in the United States. They are not over-the-counter medications and are neither approved nor indicated for treating disease. Patient knowledge and patterns of fish oil use are not well defined. Objective: To determine cardiac patients’ knowledge and patterns of fish oil use. Methods: One thousand consecutive patients admitted to an in-patient cardiology service (2015-2017) taking fish oil dietary supplements or prescription omega-3 fatty acids were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire concerning product knowledge and use. Results: A total of 711 (71%) patients completed the questionnaire. Primary reasons for use included general health (34%), heart health (28%), arthritis (9%), and lipid disorders (8%). Few patients (14%) were advised to take fish oil products by a health-care provider. Only 2.5% were taking prescription omega-3 fatty acids. Only 26% knew the active ingredient in their fish oil product. Supplements were purchased through a nonpharmacy retail seller by 81% of respondents. Conclusions: Most cardiac patients consuming fish oil dietary supplements do so without medical supervision and without knowledge of the active ingredients. As most patients obtain supplements outside of a pharmacy, opportunities to monitor and educate patients remain a major challenge.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)