A healthy heart can help delay or prevent dementia

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A new study shows the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to maintain good cardiovascular health in old age because this prevention is also effective when it comes to cognitive decline.

Age gradually changes the functioning of the heart and arteries, especially in cases of poor lifestyle. Certain risk factors are true drivers of cardiovascular aging, such as high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, diabetes, abdominal obesity, sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, prevention is important at any age and especially because taking care of your heart would also take care of your brain, according to a study by researchers from the University of Oxford. It says that preventing arterial stiffness earlier in a persons life could help delay the onset of dementia.

The researchers investigated 542 older people who received two measurements of aortic or arterial stiffness, at age 64 and 68, a predictor of cardiovascular risk. In parallel, cognitive testing and MRI of the brain evaluated the size, connections, and blood supply to different regions of the brain. The largest artery in the body (the aorta) hardens with age, and the study found that faster aortic hardening between middle age and old age was linked to markers of poor brain health: reduced blood supply, reduced connectivity between different brain regions and poor memory.

"A link between heart health and brain health"

The scientific team specifies that medical interventions and especially lifestyle changes made earlier in life can help slow down arterial stiffness, such as treating your diet by limiting salt, alcohol, sugars, and saturated fats, practice 30 minutes a day any type of physical activity. Otherwise, complications can occur very quickly: myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, strokes, vascular dementia.

For researchers, it is even more important to present this link taking into account the fact that in an aging society, cases of dementia are expected to triple by 2050 to reach 115.4 million people according to the WHO. "Our study establishes a link between heart health and brain health. It gives us insight into the potential of reducing aortic stiffness to help maintain brain health in older people. The reduced connectivity between different brain regions is an early marker of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers disease, "explains Dr. Sana Suri.

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