By Dr. Smita Patel
Research suggests that maintaining cardiovascular health positively affects brain health, and a new study sheds more light on this relationship.
The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study was a large research study assessing more than 15,000 people in the United States that began in 1985 and continued through 2007. It was designed to collect data on heart health for the purpose of guiding future health initiatives and policies. Recently, researchers took a new look at the data, and compared participant’s cardiovascular health in midlife to their cognitive health 20 years later. It was discovered that individuals in good cardiovascular health in their 50s and 60s had better cognition 20 years later, compared to those who had poorer cardiovascular health. Healthy glucose levels and normal blood pressure at age 50-60 was especially protective of cognition at age 70-80.
Studies have also shown that improvements in cardiovascular health and fitness after age 70 are associated with improved brain health. As always, if you are concerned about the health of your heart or brain, please speak with your primary care provider or a neurologist specializing in brain health, and especially before adopting new exercise or health habits.
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