BRAVE-EPA Study Seeks Veteran Participants

MJM - 4/12/2018

     The BRAVE-EPA study discussed in an article in the July 2017 and January 2018 WI VFW NEWS is still looking for eligible Veterans to participate in the 18-month study.

     In the veteran population, research has shown men and women who experience active military duty are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) than the general population. Health care providers speculate the increased risk in veterans can be attributed to the heart-head connection. Veterans experience high cholesterol, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression at higher rates than the non-military population — all health concerns that increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

     The goal of the BRAVE-EPA study is to determine if taking purified fish oil supplements to lower cholesterol can slow these changes and delay the onset of the tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, namely changes to memory and other thinking skills, as well as personality changes. (Note: BRAVE-EPA stands for Brain Amyloid and Vascular Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid.)

     Dr. Cindy Carlsson, a geriatrics provider at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital and a researcher in the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, studies Alzheimer’s disease in the veteran population. Her new BRAVE-EPA study evaluates whether fish oil favorably alters early brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease by improving blood flow to the brain in veterans with a family history for Alzheimer’s disease.

     "We know fish oil has beneficial effects on heart health,” Carlsson says. "There is some evidence to suggest it may help against Alzheimer’s disease brain changes, but this is not proven yet.” Carlsson continues, "The BRAVE-EPA study is looking at another possible intervention – utilizing a supplement we know is safe and has heart-health benefits and determining if it can also contribute to slowing AD in veterans with a family risk for the disease.”

     In Carlsson’s study, volunteers will take an 18-month regimen of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) an omega-3 fatty acid found in coldwater fish, including mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, and cod liver. Study volunteers will also undergo a series of brain imaging scans, lumbar punctures to retrieve cerebrospinal fluid, and memory and problem-solving tests. Volunteers must be veterans who are eligible for VA services, aged 50-75, and have a parental history of AD.

     Study volunteers for the BRAVE-EPA study must fit all of the following requirements:

  • Veteran who are eligible for VA services

  • Normal memory and thinking

  • Age 50-75

  • Parental history of AD


     The study requires 9 visits spread over 18 months at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. If you are interested in participating or learning more about the study, please contact the Coordinator, Elena Beckman at (608) 256-1901 ext.11199, or email