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Omega-3 fatty acids not effective for depression in CHD patients (POEM)

POEM (Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters)

Clinical question

Does supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids improve the response to sertraline in patients with major depression and coronary heart disease?

Bottom line

In this study, the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to sertraline in patients with major depression and coronary heart disease did not result in more effective treatment of the depression at 10 weeks compared with sertraline alone.


Investigators identified 122 adults with a mean age of 58 years who had a history of coronary heart disease and a current major depressive episode. Eligible patients randomly received (allocation concealed) sertraline 50mg daily plus either 2g omega-3 fatty acid daily or corn oil placebo for 10 weeks.

Individuals, who were masked to treatment group assignment, evaluated study participants at baseline, at four weeks and 10 weeks using standard validated scoring tools for depression and anxiety. Complete follow-up occurred for 94 per cent of participants at 10 weeks.

Using intention-to-treat analysis, no significant differences in improvement rates occurred between the two intervention groups. Adverse event rates were also similar in both groups. The study was 90 per cent powered to detect a predetermined clinically significant treatment difference (difference of 4 points or more on the scoring tools).

Level of evidence

1b (randomised controlled trial with narrow confidence interval)


Carney RM, Freedland KE, Rubin EH, Rich MW, Steinmeyer BC, Harris WS. Omega-3 augmentation of sertraline in treatment of depression in patients with coronary heart disease. A randomized controlled trial.

JAMA 2009;302(15):1651–7.


Industry and government


POEM (Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters) © 1995-2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. or related companies. All Rights reserved.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10989700

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