16 April 2010
People taking fish oil may be at increased risk of bleeding and should be advised to stop the supplements in the lead-up to elective surgery, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recommended (Australian Prescriber 2010; 33(2): 48-51).
High-dose supplements should also be discontinued in people at high risk for haemorrhagic stroke (stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak and cause damage to an area of the brain), according to a recent update from the new Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines.
Although fish oils were largely safe and had an array of potential benefits, there was some concern about their anticoagulant (anti-clotting) properties which warranted caution, the update said.
“Despite the lack of evidence of a systematic safety concern, it would appear reasonable to be mindful of the theoretical risk of bleeding with fish oil when monitoring patients treated with fish oils and anticoagulants [anti-clotting medicines].”
Surgery patients were advised to stop taking supplements 4 to 7 days before procedures which have a high risk of bleeding complications.
Last Reviewed: 16 April 2010