, Volume 206, Issue 2, pp 117-128

Antiarrhythmic Mechanisms of n-3 PUFA and the Results of the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial

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The purpose of this paper is twofold: on the one hand, to confirm the positive results on n-3 PUFA from the overall results Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GlSSI)-Prevenzione trial; on the other, to summarize and describe how the results of an important trial can help generate hypotheses either on mechanisms of action or on differential results in particular subgroups of patients, as well as test the pathophysiological hypotheses that have accompanied in the years the story of the hypothesized mechanisms of action of a drug. GISSI-Prevenzione was conceived as a pragmatic population trial on patients with recent myocardial infarction and it was conducted in the framework of the Italian public health system. In GISSI-Prevenzione, 11,323 patients were enrolled in a clinical trial aimed at testing the effectiveness of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and vitamin E. Patients were invited to follow Mediterranean dietary habits, and were treated with up-to-date preventive pharmacological interventions. Long-term n-3 PUFA at 1 g daily, but not vitamin E at 300 mg daily, was beneficial for death and for combined death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and stroke. All the benefit, however, was attributable to the decrease in risk for overall (−20%), cardiovascular (−30%), and sudden death (−45%). At variance from the orientation of a scientific scenario largely dominated by the “cholesterol-heart hypothesis”, GISSI-Prevenzione results indicate n-3 PUFA (virtually devoid of any cholesterol-lowering effect) as a relevant pharmacological treatment for secondary prevention after myocardial infarction.

Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico (GISSI)
Associazione Nazionale Medici Cardiologi Ospedalieri (ANMCO), Italy.
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri - Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy
*The names of GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators are reported in Lancet 1999; 354:447–55. (40)