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Fish on the Brain 

  Giving a patient fish oil following a stroke can help prevent brain damage — even if the treatment is delayed up to five hours, according to research published in November in Translational Stroke Research.

  Dr. Nicolas Bazan, director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, led researchers who found the fish oil component Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can protect brain tissue and promote recovery from ischemic strokes caused by fatty buildup in the arteries or blood clots. Bazan says the research not only supplies health professionals with a new treatment, but also shows a more liberal timeline for successful treatment of ischemic strokes, which result from clots that keep blood from flowing to the brain. According to the American Heart Association, 87 percent of strokes are ischemic in nature.

  Bazan's research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found DHA treatment not only saved brain tissue that would have died without the therapy, but also triggered repair processes that returned some tissue to normal within seven days. Currently, ischemic stroke patients are treated with clot-busting drugs that must be administered quickly and help only 3 percent to 5 percent of patients.

  DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fish including salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and shellfish. It is vital for proper brain function and development of the nervous system. — Kandace Power Graves

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