Measuring your cardiovascular health
Given the increased linkage of cardiovascular health during midlife to dementia in later years, it’s important to understand your level of cardiovascular health.
Visit your doctor to receive a blood pressure test at least once a year. Aim for blood pressure of 120 over 80; anything higher suggests your heart and arteries are working too hard to supply your body with blood.
Your doctor may also opt to perform a blood test to check levels of potassium, albumin, and creatinine in your body. Abnormally high levels suggest poor kidney, liver, and heart function. The test can also check to ensure your cholesterol levels are normal.
It’s also possible to monitor your cardiovascular health at home with a few simple tests. Start by checking your resting heart rate. Put two fingers on your inner wrist and count your pulse for 10 seconds. Then, multiply the number of beats by six to get your heart rate for one minute. A normal range for adults is between 60 and 100 beats a minute, with lower numbers meaning a better preforming heart.
Next, go for a brisk 10-minute walk and then immediately test your heart rate again using the same pulse counting method. A normal range for adults under 65 is between 83 and 146 beats per minute. For adults 65 and older, that range drops from 78 to 116. While it’s important to increase your heart rate for good physical fitness, be careful about exceeding the range; that indicates a heart that is overworked and inefficient.