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Microcirculation. 2008 Jan;15(1):27-36.

Frequency of fish consumption, retinal microvascular signs and vascular mortality.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Austria.



Fish consumption has established cardiovascular and cerebrovascular benefits, but its effects on microvascular structure have not been examined in population-based studies. We investigated this association, in relation to vascular mortality in an Australian cohort (1992-2004).


Of 3654 participants aged 49+ years, 2683 (73%) with available data were included. Retinal arteriolar and venular diameters were measured, and signs of arterio-venous nicking and retinopathy were assessed from digital retinal images. Fish consumption was evaluated using a food frequency questionnaire.


Both wider mean arteriolar diameter (p = 0.002) and narrower venular diameter (p = 0.02) were associated with increasing frequency of consuming any or oily fish, after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, diet, inflammatory factors and socioeconomic status. This association was mainly present in persons with hypertension. Greater frequency of fish consumption was associated with a reduced prevalence of arterio-venous nicking and a borderline significant trend for reduced retinopathy prevalence. Ten year stroke-related mortality was significantly lower in persons consuming fish at least once per week compared to less frequent consumption (hazard ratio 0.57, 95% CI: 0.35 to 0.93).


Recent evidence shows that narrower arterioles and wider venules may predict vascular events. Our new findings suggest that the vascular protective effects of consuming fish could act, in part, by preventing pathological microvasculature change.

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