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Omega-3 Fatty Acid

The Omega-3 Fatty Acid test quantifies the fatty acids present in a sample of a patient’s whole blood. Specific levels of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the blood have been associated with a lower risk of sudden death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

How is the test performed?

A simple blood test


  • Clinical Utility: The Omega-3 Fatty Acid test can determine fatty acid-associated risk for cardiovascular events, it can screen for omega-3 fatty acid deficiency as well as Monitor omega-3 fatty acid intake (diet, over-the-counter supplements, prescription medication)
  • Ordering: Healthcare provider needs to indicate ‘Omega-3 Fatty Acids’ in the ‘Other Tests’ section of the requisition form.
  • Patient instructions: Patient needs to bring the completed requisition form to a Patient Service Centre.
  • Turnaround Time: Test results will be available within 2 weeks.
  • Cost: This test is not currently covered by provincial health plans, but may be covered by the patient’s private insurance.

The Omega-3 Fatty Acid test is a simple blood test. A number of research studies published in leading medical and clinical nutrition journals have indicated that higher levels of the ‘long-chain’ Omega-3 Fatty Acids are associated with a lower risk for cardiac death, coronary heart disease, or sudden myocardial infarction.

You can order the test online by clicking here. 

Although intake of omega-3 fatty acids is related to cardiovascular risk, EPA and DHA measurements can provide a more accurate prediction of clinical cardiac events. Your healthcare provider may order this test for you if they’re evaluating you for Omega-3 therapy (if you’re found to be at risk of CVD or hyperglycemia – high blood sugar) or to monitor your dosage of omega-3 supplements.

The sum of EPA and DHA, expressed as a percentage of total phospholipid fatty acids, is called the omega-3 index. The index can be used as an indicator of risk for sudden cardiac death and nonfatal cardiovascular events.

You can order the test online by clicking here. 

Your Omega-Score will indicate to your doctor whether you’re at low risk, moderate risk or high risk for developing fatty-acid related cardiovascular disease. The Omega is a measurement of the levels of the Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a blood sample. The summed amounts of these Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA+DPA+DHA) as a % of the total fatty acids represent the Omega in whole blood.

This test may or may not be covered by your provincial health insurance plan, but is usually covered by all extended health plans. Contact LifeLabs customer care to find out about the current fee for the test.

Your doctor will receive the results between 5 to 10 business days from date of the blood test.


Omega-3 fatty acids, also called n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), are involved in multiple biological pathways, including coagulation, muscle function, cellular transport, and cell division and growth. The 3 major omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid.

Although intake of omega-3 fatty acids is related to lower cardiovascular risk, EPA and DHA measurements can provide a more accurate prediction of clinical events. As Omega-3 fatty acid blood status is an independent risk factor for CVD, and individual response to the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and/or supplements is variable, the Omega-3 Fatty Acid test provides valuable additive information to help determine the appropriate care for your patients.


The Omega-3 Fatty Acid test can be used in healthy, borderline or high risk patients in conjunction with standard or advanced lipid panels, but can also be ordered separately. Specifically, this test is useful for managing:

  • Individuals who are being considered for omega-3 therapy (eg, those with hypercholesterolemia and/or hypertriglyceridemia and those at high risk of cardiovascular disease)
  • Individuals being treated with omega-3 supplementation

The Omega-3 Fatty Acid report provides the doctor a whole blood Omega-Score (EPA+DPA+DHA) for the patient as well as Omega-3 Index Red Blood Cells Equivalence Score (EPA+DHA), AA/EPA ratio as well as total Omega-6 fatty acids.

  1. Lavie CJ et al, 2009. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Diseases. Journal of the American College of Cardiology; 54: 585-594.
  2. Von Schacky C. Omega-3 fatty acids vs. cardiac disease—the contribution of the omega-3 index. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2010;56:93-101.
  3. De Caterina R. n-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2011;364:2439-2450.
  4. Superko HR, Superko SM, Nasir K, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid blood levels: clinical significance and controversy. Circulation. 2013;128:2154-2161.

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