HealthDay News — Higher intake of fish is associated with lower cerebrovascular disease (CVD) burden in older adults as reflected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers of brain vascular health, according to a study published online Nov. 3 in Neurology.

Alina Thomas, from the University of Bordeaux in France, and colleagues examined the association of fish intake with global CVD burden based on brain MRI markers. A total of 1,623 participants aged 65 years or older without dementia, stroke, or a history of hospitalized cardiovascular disease underwent brain MRI, with automated assessment of white matter hyperintensities, visual detection of covert infarcts, and dilated perivascular space grading.

The researchers found that the first component of factor analysis, which explained 32.4 percent of the variance, was associated with higher levels of all three MRI markers. There was an association seen for higher fish intake with lower CVD burden. After adjustment for total intracranial volume, those consuming fish two to three times and at least four times a week versus less than once a week had ß = −0.19 and ß = −0.30 lower indicators of CVD burden, respectively. There was evidence of effect modification by age; the association of fish intake with CVD was stronger in younger participants (65 to 69 years) and was not significant in those aged 75 years or older. In the younger age group, consuming fish two to three times per week was about equivalent to the effect of hypertension, but in the opposite direction.

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“If confirmed in prospective studies or clinical trials, the beneficial role of fish intake for the preservation of cerebrovascular health in very early brain aging stages may lead to relatively simple and inexpensive preventive strategies,” the authors write.

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