What Is Omega-3-Acid Ethyl Esters Used For?
Omega-3-acid ethyl esters is used for lowering triglycerides in people with levels of 500 mg/dL and higher. It is a prescription fish oil medication that has not been studied in children and is, therefore, not approved for this age group. Healthcare providers may occasionally recommend off-label uses of the product, such as for treating heart failure, preventing a second heart attack, and treating IgA nephropathy.
Omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza®) is a prescription fish oil medication approved for treating very high triglycerides, defined as a triglyceride level of 500 mg/dL or higher.
Triglycerides are the main storage form of fat in the body and are very important for the overall functioning of the body. However, high triglycerides in the blood (known as hypertriglyceridemia) can lead to health problems.
High triglycerides can increase your risk for developing certain medical conditions, including heart disease and heart attack. When triglycerides in the blood are high, they can build up on your artery walls (as can cholesterol and other debris). This buildup is called plaque. Over time, plaque can narrow the blood vessels, and sometimes this buildup may even block your blood vessels completely. Plaque buildup on your blood vessel walls is called atherosclerosis.
For people with extremely high levels of triglycerides in the blood (over 1,000 mg/dL), high triglycerides can also cause other conditions, including:
- Xanthomas, which are fat deposits under the skin
- Fatty liver
- Pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas.
Common causes of high triglycerides include obesity, inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, or a very high carbohydrate diet. Other causes include various diseases and medications. In general, there are usually no noticeable high triglyceride symptoms.
Before medications are prescribed for high triglycerides, your healthcare provider will recommend various lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet and exercise (see Diet to Lower Triglycerides). You should also limit your alcohol consumption and lose excess weight. Your healthcare provider will also check to make sure your high triglycerides are not caused by another disease or by a medication. After all these efforts, medication (such as omega-3-acid ethyl esters) may be recommended if your triglycerides remain high.