Lower Your Risk of Dementia By Boosting Your Heart Health

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Heart Health and DementiaYour heart and your brain are intimately connected. In fact, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there is a whole field of medicine and scientific research devoted to this relationship called neurocardiology. And recently, I came across some rather big news for this field. According to new research, a healthy heart may play a big role in your susceptibility to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Poor Heart Health Could Lead to Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

This new research I’m referring to recently appeared in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and it shows that heart function is closely associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The relationship comes down to cardiac index, or how much blood is pumped out of the heart and through the body. Your heart sends blood through the arteries to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs, while removing de-oxygenated blood. Your brain, although only accounting for about two percent of your total body weight, requires about 15% of the blood pumped from your heart. A lower cardiac index, therefore, means there could be less blood getting to the brain, affecting its function.

The decrease in oxygenated blood and nutrients making their way to the brain may slowly cut away support to brain tissues, limiting activity. Furthermore, as you age, your blood vessels can become less healthy (especially if you eat poorly and don’t exercise) and less adaptable to blood flow.

Participants in the study who had a low cardiac index were two to three times more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than those who had a higher cardiac index. One very interesting note: the researchers believed that heart disease and dementia were linked, but when they excluded heart disease patients, they were shocked to learn the risk for dementia got even worse!

Lower Your Risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s by Boosting Your Heart Health

This is a big discovery, because heart health and the risks that come along with it are modifiable. No, you can’t change genetics; but you can do things to improve cardiac output and overall heart health!

There are no known cures or proven prevention methods for Alzheimer’s and dementia, but this discovery could revolutionize treatments. The number of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients is on the rise, particularly as the population ages. If you can try to adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle now—that means regular exercise and a healthy diet—you might be able to decrease your chances of mental illness and cognitive decline as you age.

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Source for Today’s Article:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “Poor heart function could be major risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” ScienceDaily web site, March 3, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303124016.htm.

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