Ask The Pharmacist: Take a fish oil with your statin – it works better

Suzy Cohen

Over 15.5 million Americans have CAD, coronary artery disease and every 42 seconds a person has a heart attack (termed myocardial infarction or MI). A third of these people die. The conventional thought process to prevent an MI is to lower cholesterol. 

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Whether or not that approach works is up for debate, but the reality is these drugs are extraordinarily popular with physicians and patients. The word “statin” is a household name. 

A fish oil pill with a heart icon label in the middle. The pill is set against a white background.

Pharmaceutical companies harvest 25 billion in revenue annually from their use which is in everyone now, even kids. Statins come with some ‘drug mugging’ though, among the stolen nutrients: CoQ10, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, E and copper. 

There are millions of people  taking statins and I can make your statin work better. Take them with fish oils.


Fish oils are supplements that are known to boost cardiovascular health. There have been two trials that recently showed unprecedented results. The JELIS Trial and the REDUCE-IT Trial. These studies used an EPA only drug, Epadel and Vascepa, respectively. These are purified fish oils that require prescription and do not contain and DHA.

Keep in mind that both EPA and DHA are in regular supplements, so if you look at your fish oil at home, you’ll see both EPA and DHA listed on the Supplement Facts Box. Just FYI, the trials above were essentially self-funded using medications that they themselves manufacture, not fish oils from a health food store.

The purpose of the JELIS Study was to find out if EPAs would enhance a statin, or if a statin alone was enough. Every person in the study was on a statin. Cholesterol numbers came down in both groups (the statin only group, and the statin plus EPA group). 

But this part’s excellent. After four and a half years, the most dangerous and potentially catastrophic consequences were significantly lower in the group who took EPA with their statin. Their incidents were reduced, in some cases by up to 28 percent, for example in the group of people with unstable angina. 

A person holds fish oil pills in her hand.

One potential mechanism of action is that EPA reduces your body’s production of arachidonic acid (AA), which is an inflammatory compound. Reducing AA improves the outcome of many conditions, including Alzheimer’s, depression and autoimmune diseases.

The ratio of EPA to AA in your body is very important - that’s the message I’d like to get out there. You want the EPA to be higher than the AA so taking a high EPA fish oil is what works. If you’d like to read my awesome much longer and more comprehensive article on this topic, sign up for my free newsletter at and I’ll email it to you next week. 

In the meantime, if you take a statin medication right now, consider a fish oils supplement, one that is tilted in the direction of EPA versus DHA. There are brands sold at health food stores, and online like this.  You can also ask about the fish oil medications available by prescription, if you prefer this route for insurance purposes, or because that’s what was given to participants in the above-mentioned clinical trials.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit