Thousands of heart attack victims are to be prescribed fish oil supplements under new guidelines published by the health watchdog
Doctors are being urged to issue a one-a-day pill to patients who have had a heart attack in the previous three months and are not getting enough oily fish in their diet.
Research examined by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence shows Omacor - a 1g highly purified concentration of omega-3-acid ethyl esters - reduces the risk of another heart attack and can cut the risk of a patient dying by up to 45%.
Professor Gene Feder, who worked on the guidance, said patients who have suffered a heart attack in the previous three months are shown to benefit from taking the supplement, but he added that Nice will not be suggesting that other heart attack victims stop taking fish oil supplements.
The guidance will mean patients who are not getting at least 7g of omega-3 fatty acids a week from two to four portions of oily fish will be given the supplement for up to four years. It is expected to cost £7m in the first year.
Dr Gill Leng, Nice implementation systems director and executive lead for the guideline, said: "The guideline will help ensure there is a coherent and consistent approach amongst clinicians of all disciplines and places of practice involved in post-myocardial infarction management."