Adults with slightly elevated blood pressure are wanted for a University of Newcastle (UON) clinical trial evaluating the benefits of taking a fish oil supplement for brain health.

Study leader Professor Peter Howe says omega-3s in fish oil can help to control blood pressure and there is increasing evidence they also can improve mental performance in older adults.

“We have hypothesised that the benefits of omega-3 for cardiovascular and brain function are related. The link is the ability of omega-3 to optimise the functioning of endothelial cells which line blood vessels,” Professor Howe said.

“This is equally important in the brain as in the heart and other parts of the circulation, yet the benefits for cerebral vessels have never been tested.”

The research team aims to recruit 60 men or postmenopausal women aged 40 to 85 years with blood pressure between the ranges of 130-160 for systolic and 85-100 for diastolic – this will be confirmed at the screening visit.

Volunteers can be taking blood pressure (antihypertensive) medication, provided their blood pressure has been stable for at least three months before the study and remains so during the study.

“People with raised blood pressure have impaired endothelial function,” Professor Howe added. “We expect that regular DHA-rich fish oil supplementation will help to improve their blood pressure, as well as their mood and cognition, by improving blood flow in the brain.

Eligible volunteers will be asked to consume a fish oil or placebo supplement (four capsules daily for 20 weeks). They will need to visit the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan campus at the start of the trial, after 10 and 20 weeks for a series of cognitive and simple blood vessel function tests. The later test is measured using ultrasound.

Blood samples will also be taken at the start and end of the intervention.

For further information about the study, phone Hamish Evans on (02) 4921 8616 or email hamish.evans@newcastle.edu.au

* Project investigators Professor Peter Howe, Dr Rachel Wong, Professor Manohar Garg, Melissa Fry and Hamish Evans are from the University of Newcastle, researching in conjunction with the HMRI Cardiovascular Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England

News courtesy of HMRI