Background— Few studies have examined associations of fish consumption with ischemic heart disease (IHD) risk among older adults or how different types of fish meals relate to IHD risk.
Methods and Results— In a population-based prospective cohort study, usual fish consumption was ascertained at baseline among 3910 adults aged 65 years and free of known cardiovascular disease in 1989 and 1990. Consumption of tuna and other broiled or baked fish correlated with plasma phospholipid long-chain n-3 fatty acids, whereas consumption of fried fish or fish sandwiches (fish burgers) did not. Over 9.3 years’ mean follow-up, there were 247 IHD deaths (including 148 arrhythmic deaths) and 363 incident nonfatal myocardial infarctions (MIs). After adjustment for potential confounders, consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish was associated with lower risk of total IHD death (P for trend=0.001) and arrhythmic IHD death (P=0.001) but not nonfatal MI (P=0.44), with 49% lower risk of total IHD death and 58% lower risk of arrhythmic IHD death among persons consuming tuna/other fish 3 or more times per week compared with less than once per month. In similar analyses, fried fish/fish sandwich consumption was not associated with lower risk of total IHD death, arrhythmic IHD death, or nonfatal MI but rather with trends toward higher risk.
Conclusions— Among adults aged 65 years, modest consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish, but not fried fish or fish sandwiches, is associated with lower risk of IHD death, especially arrhythmic IHD death. Cardiac benefits of fish consumption may vary depending on the type of fish meal consumed.