Can Taking Fish Oil Prevent Strokes?

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Strokes remain the third leading cause of death in adults living in the United States. It’s also the main reason older adults become disabled. According to research performed at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, including fish oil in the diet on a regular basis may decrease the risk of strokes by almost half.

Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids interfere with platelet activity. Thus, they interfere with the clotting process. Blood clots in the brain’s fragile vessels cause blockages. Vascular pressure increases until the vessel ruptures. However, by consuming enough fatty fish, omega-3 fatty acids congregate in blood vessels and other cells. The vasculature becomes more flexible and blood flows more freely. 

If seniors consume too much margarine, vegetable oil, or saturated fats, the body accumulates omega-6 fatty acids. The substances trigger prostaglandin production and chemical messengers called leukotrienes. These hormones are also linked with clot formation, inflammation, and blood vessel constriction, which raises the risk of stroke. However, by including fatty fish in the diet on a regular basis, omega-3 fatty acids protect the blood vessels and block the prostaglandin receptor sites. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish also reduce inflammation.

Following a stroke, seniors often need help managing the symptoms. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional Stroke care. McKinney families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Scientific Evidence

Research teams from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health followed more than 43,000 men over the course of 12 years. They found that the individuals who ate fish at least once each month reduced their risk of having ischemic strokes by 44 percent. In addition, eating fatty fish two to three times each week reduced the risk of heart attacks by 45 percent. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids offer twice the protective value compared to taking aspirin daily. Aspirin also increases the risk of gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, which leads to more than 100,000 emergency hospital visits annually. 

Some seniors may be reluctant to eat fish on a regular basis due to the fear of consuming mercury or other toxins. The Harvard scientists report that seniors should avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. However, they also explained that the benefits of eating fatty fish far outweigh the risk of mercury toxicity by 300 to 500 percent.

British Study

A group of scientists from Great Britain published the results of a study in the British Medical Journal. The researchers carefully assessed the results of 38 prior omega-3 fatty acid studies. The reports included documentation of approximately 800,000 people from 15 different countries, finding similar stroke reduction results. Some people believe taking oral omega-3 fish oil supplements offers the same benefit. However, research has yet to prove if this is the case. 

Following a healthy lifestyle in the golden years can be challenging. McKinney home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

Best Omega-3 Resources

Seniors can easily find oily fish to add to their diets, including anchovies, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna. However, scientists advise that the fish should be baked, grilled, or steamed instead of buttered or fried.

Stroke prevention can be challenging for some family caregivers to manage. In McKinney, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family. Contact Home Care Assistance today at (972) 548-0392 to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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