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A Healthy Heart May Decrease Dementia Risk

New research has found that there may be a link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, researchers found that those with reduced heart function were more likely to develop memory loss. This study may then suggest that a healthy heart can possible prevent dementia down the road.

The Heart & Brain Relationship

The great news about these findings is that heart health is a controllable factor when it comes to one's dementia risk. Genetics and family history are obviously uncontrollable; however, choosing healthy lifestyle choices can positively affect heart health. A lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise keeps your heart health on the right track.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, began with efforts dating back to 1948. The researchers were trying to identify risk factors associated with heart disease. For eleven years, more than a thousand participants were followed. Over this period of time, thirty-two participants were diagnosed with dementia and twenty-six of those thirty-two developed Alzheimer’s.

Why is there such a strong connection between heart health and dementia risk? Fifteen percent of the blood pumped from the heart goes to the brain. The older we get, however, the vessels in our brain are not as strong as they once were in maintaining a consistent level of blood to support the brain. This can negatively affect brain function and activity.

Importance of Heart Health

When heart disease, heart failure or other cardiovascular diseases take place, the transportation of oxygen to the brain is impaired. This is a dangerous occurrence as the brain is very vulnerable to the decrease of oxygen and other nutrients.

Although there is still no sure for Alzheimer’s, having a handle on your hearth health and ultimately your brain can be wonderful news for the medical world. Below are tips to keep your heart healthy and active:

  • Exercise often. About 30 minutes of exercise four to five days a week is best. Be sure to include a variety of activities in your exercise routine, too!

  • Eat a healthy diet, especially fish. The Mediterranean diet seems to be the best diet to benefit your heart health.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Based on your age and height, your doctor can help you determine a healthy weight.

  • Don’t smoke. We’re all familiar with the risks of smoking, and it is one of the biggest factors that increases your risk of experiencing a heart attack or developing heart disease.

  • Antioxidants. Beta-carotene, Vitamin C & E are some of the antioxidants that have a positive effect on those fighting heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

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