How Your Heart Dictates Your Brain Health

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Heart disease causes poor circulation and the two together are now being linked to mental decline in older people.Everyone wants to avoid having to suffer through dementia. The symptoms are nasty and recovery is rare. And then there’s the fact that no one knows exactly how to treat the debilitating mental condition once it takes hold in the brain.

A small but significant breakthrough has been made in dealing with the disease, however. In recent health news, researchers at the Mayo Clinic think that heart disease may be linked to mental decline in older people. Treat one and you may be able to avoid the other.

To test their conclusions, the research team investigated the association of cardiac disease with two forms of cognitive impairment: amnestic and nonamnestic. Amnesia refers to cognitive impairment involving memory loss and nonamnestic refers to mild cognitive impairment involving other thought processes in the brain. Nonamnestic mild cognitive impairment, the researchers say, tends to show up in people before they get vascular and other non-Alzheimer dementias.

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A total of 2,719 participants were recruited for the study. Everyone was evaluated at the start of the study and at 15-month intervals. The researchers used a mental health measuring chart called the “Clinical Dementia Rating Scale.” They also conducted a neurological evaluation and performed neuropsychological testing. After collecting this data, they gave each patient a diagnosis of normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia, respectively. Cardiac disease was also assessed using the participants’ medical records.

Of the 1,450 participants without mild cognitive impairment or dementia at baseline, 366 developed the condition. The research team also found that cardiac disease was associated with an increased risk of nonamnestic cognitive impairment—in women in particular.

Make sure you visit your doctor regularly and have your heart and circulatory system checked for signs of disease. Preventing and managing heart disease could help reduce your risk for cognitive impairment as you get older.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
How Your Heart Dictates Your Brain Health
Roberts, R.O., et al., “Cardiac Disease Associated With Increased Risk of Nonamnestic Cognitive Impairment: Stronger Effect on Women,” JAMA Neurol. January 28, 2013: 1–9.