British Journal of Nutrition

Short communication

Effect of n-3 fatty acids from fish on electrocardiographic characteristics in patients with frequent premature ventricular complexes

Anouk Geelena1 c1, Peter L. Zocka1, Ingeborg A. Brouwera1, Martijn B. Katana1, Jan A. Korsa2, Henk J. Ritsema van Ecka2 and Evert G. Schoutena1

a1 Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences (WCFS) and Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


n-3 Fatty acids may protect against heart disease mortality by preventing fatal arrhythmias. Underlying effects on cardiac electrophysiology may be demonstrable in the standard electrocardiogram (ECG) and provide insight into the mechanism. Therefore, we investigated the effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids on heart-rate-corrected QT interval, T-loop width, spatial QRS-T angle and spatial U-wave amplitude in patients with frequent premature ventricular complexes. Seventy-four patients received either capsules providing 1·5 g n-3 fatty acids daily or placebo for approximately 14 weeks. ECG were recorded before and after intervention. None of the ECG characteristics was significantly affected by treatment. The present results do not provide additional support for the hypothesis that n-3 fatty acids prevent cardiac arrhythmia through generic electrophysiologic effects on heart cell membranes. However, we cannot exclude effects of n-3 fatty acids on clinical relevant endpoints that are not easily detected by prior changes in the ECG.

(Received September 01 2004)

(Revised December 23 2004)

(Accepted January 15 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Anouk Geelen, fax +31 317 483342, email