Keeping your heart healthy may have more of an impact on the rest of your health than you realize. Most specifically your brain. As evidenced by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine where the rates of cardiovascular disease has dropped over the last 4 decades, whereas the incidence of dementia has dropped significantly too.
What type of dementia has experience the greatest drop? Vascular dementia where the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain become damaged. When those vessels are not damaged, you have increased blood flow to your brain, which means you do not have as many problems with memory, disorientation, and cognitive function which are the trademarks of dementia.
How is the brain and heart connected?
As already mentioned there seems to be a stronger link between the health of your heart and that of your brain.
- Every time your heart beats a quarter of your blood is pumped to your head – brain, that nourishes your brain with oxygen and food.
- As common sense would dictate if your heart has trouble pumping blood to your brain it can cause damage to the brain, possibly leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Stroke survivers are more likely to have memory loss and a decrease in brain function.
Exactly how does having a healthy heart prevent dementia?
The best way to ensure a healthy brain according to experts would be to control the same risk factors for heart disease. This is both cost-effective and a streamlined way to do it.
- High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol that are contributing factors for heart disease, also increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- When you make lifestyle changes for better heart health, you’re also making lifestyles changes that will be better for your brain.
- By being diligent with your heart health, it will help your doctor detect the slightest of strokes and ensure optimal brain health.
Ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lifestyle modifications will have a dramatic effect on your heart health and your brain at the same time. Here are some tips for a healthier heart and brain.
- Eat a heart-healthy balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. While limiting sugar and unhealthy fats. This may help protect the heart and brain.
- Exercise is another critical way to help decrease your chances of developing cardiovascular, and ensuring peak brain health by making sure you have proper blood flow to the brain.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke you should quit. As you know smoking causes a whole host of issues – COPD, lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Not surprising smoking has a negative effect on your brain health as well.
As it turns out what is good for your heart is good for your brain. So, start makes lifestyle changes not only for your heart, but for your brain. As always consult your doctor before undergoing any lifestyle changes.
[h/t: health grades]