Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on heart rate variability in depressed patients With Coronary Heart Disease

Robert M. Carney, Kenneth E. Freedland, Phyllis K. Stein, Brian C. Steinmeyer, William S. Harris, Eugene H. Rubin, Ronald J. Krone, Michael W. Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether omega-3 fatty acid (FA) increases the natural log of very low frequency (lnVLF) power, an index of heart rate variability (HRV), and reduces 24-hour heart rate (HR) in depressed patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Low intake of omega-3 FAs is associated with depression and with low HRV, and all three are associated with an increased risk of death in patients with CHD. Methods: Thirty-six depressed patients with CHD randomized to receive 50 mg of sertraline and 2 g of omega-3/day, and 36 randomized to sertraline and a placebo, had 24-hour HRV measured at baseline and after 10 weeks of treatment. Results: There was a significant treatment × time interaction for covariate adjusted lnVLF (p = .009), for mean 24-hour HR (p = .03), and for 1-minute resting HR (p = .02). The interaction was not significant for three other measures of HRV. LnVLF did not change over time in the omega-3 arm but decreased in the placebo arm (p = .002), suggesting that omega-3 may have prevented or slowed deterioration in cardiac autonomic function. Conclusions: The effects of omega-3 FAs on lnVLF and HR, although modest, were detected after only 10 weeks of treatment with 2 g per day of omega-3. Whether a longer course of treatment or a higher dose of omega-3 would further decrease HR, improve other indices of HRV, or reduce mortality in depressed CHD patients should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-754
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Depression
  • Heart rate variability
  • Omega-3


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on heart rate variability in depressed patients With Coronary Heart Disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this