Brain Health: It’s A Heart Thing 

Better heart health lowers dementia risk

| Catharine Paddock Ph.D., Medical News Today – Older adults with more ideal measures of cardiovascular health were less likely to develop dementia and experience cognitive decline.

Better measures of heart health protect older people from dementia.

This was the main finding of a recent study now published in JAMA that followed 6,626 people aged 65 and over in France for an average of 8 years.

It based the cardiovascular health measures on the American Heart Association (AHA) “Simple 7” guide.

The guide recommends: giving up smoking; being physically active; having a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and fish; having a healthy weight; and managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

‘Optimal levels’ of cardiovascular health

None of the people examined had dementia or a history of cardiovascular disease when they joined the study, which began recruiting in 1999. Their average age was 73.7 years and 4,200 were women.

All of the participants took repeated tests of cognitive ability during the follow-up. In addition, they underwent screening for dementia, and an independent panel of neurologists confirmed any diagnoses.

At the start of the study, the scientists also assessed each individual according to how well they matched the “optimal level” of each of the seven cardiovascular health measures.

They defined the optimal levels of these measures as:

  1. never having smoked or having quit for at least 12 months
  2. regular physical activity, such as walking at least 8 hours per week
  3. at least one daily portion of fruits and vegetables and two or more servings per week of fish
  4. a body mass index (BMI) under 25
  5. total cholesterol under 200 milligrams per deciliter
  6. blood pressure below 120/80 millimeters of mercury
  7. fasting blood glucose under 100 milligrams per deciliter …

The researchers concluded that:

“These findings may support the promotion of cardiovascular health to prevent risk factors associated with cognitive decline and dementia.” Read more at Medical News Today

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