How Heart Health Now Can Reduce Dementia Risk Later
A recent study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has found that smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other cardiovascular health issues may increase one’s risk for dementia later in life.
“This study supports the importance of controlling vascular risk factors like high blood pressure early in life in an effort to prevent dementia as we age,” said Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, director of the NINDS. “What's good for the heart is good for the brain.”
There are multiple factors, such as diabetes, smoking, heart-related issues, and high blood pressure, which are all linked to an increased risk of dementia in the later years of life. It is important to control one’s vascular risk, which includes avoiding high blood pressure during the early period of life to prevent the risk of dementia, since a healthy heart can lead to a healthy brain. For a period of more than 25 years, researchers and scientists have been tracking the memory and cardiovascular health of individuals. They found that one of the strongest predictors of dementia was the presence of the ApoE4 gene. This particular gene is known to lead to the development of lipoproteins, which mostly carry fats, vitamins, and cholesterol throughout the entire body, which also includes the brain.
A link has been established between one’s heart health and an increased risk of dementia, mostly at the middle and later period of life. So, it is very important to understand the status of one’s heart. It is important to visit the doctor for a routine blood pressure test at least once a year, and the aim should be 120 over 80. If the numbers are higher than these, it is not a good sign for the heart since it would mean that the arteries and heart are working too hard to pump a proper supply of blood to the entire body. The doctor can also perform a blood test to check the amount of creatinine, potassium, and albumin in the body. If any of these are abnormally high, it would indicate a malfunctioning of the heart, liver, and kidneys. It is also important to ensure that one’s cholesterol levels are normal, or else it can be detrimental to the heart.
Many a times, the cardiovascular risks are due to genetics, but it can also be attributed to one’s lifestyle choices. To reduce the risk of dementia later in life due to poor heart health, follow these steps:
- Make sure you get enough uninterrupted sleep each night. An adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep on average. A good night’s sleep would ensure that the individual’s overall health is strengthened, including the bones, arteries, and blood vessels.
- Maintain proper blood pressure, for which you would need to cut down on salt and alcohol. Try to exercise on a regular basis and find ways to avoid or manage stress. Set aside some time for your favorite hobby, for example.
- Diet plays an important role, so try to cut down on meat, white carbs, sugar, and high-fat items. Go in for fresh fruits, leafy veggies, and fiber-rich foods instead.
- Thinking positive is also linked with improved cardiovascular health. This can be done by reducing stress levels and lowering blood pressure.
- Take time to exercise and carry out meditation or deep breathing.