Best of Both Worlds: Heart Healthy Life Also Benefits Brain

7 steps to cut heart attack, stroke, cognitive impairment

(CARDIOLOGY TODAY) A heart-healthy lifestyle can improve brain health in adults and reduce the risk for cognitive decline, including dementia, according to a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

Photo by RitaE (Pixabay)

“Research summarized in the advisory convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis are also major contributors to late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Philip B. Gorelick, MD, of Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the chair of the advisory’s writing group, said in a press release.

“By following seven simple steps — Life’s Simple 7 — not only can we prevent heart attack and stroke, we may also be able to prevent cognitive impairment.”

Defining optimal brain health

Gorelick and the advisory writing group systematically reviewed available data and evidence to define optimal brain health and how to maintain it using similar approaches to maintain CV health, as they are associated with one another.

Modifiable risks such as uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and depression have been linked to compromised brain health, according to the advisory.

Optimal brain health was theoretically defined as “optimal capacity to function adaptively in the environment,” the authors wrote. Although the advisory focuses on adult patients, interventions to reduce risk should begin in young adulthood or even childhood.

The writing group used the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 strategy to develop methods to maintain brain health, including physical activity, nonsmoking status, healthy diet, BMI less than 25 kg/m2, untreated BP less than 120/80 mm Hg, fasting glucose less than 100 mg/dL and untreated total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL.

“Although the importance of these factors with respect to optimal brain health is acknowledged, AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 was chosen to be the backbone of the definition of the metrics because of their relevance on individual and population levels.” READ FULL STORY AT CARDIOLOGY TODAY.