A new study has found that having strong heart health also means strong brain health, too. The researchers found that seniors who meet over seven heart health goals had faster thinking ability and less memory decline up to six years later.
Lead researcher Hannah Gardener said, “The results of our study highlight the need for patients and physicians to monitor and address heart health factors and strive for ideal levels, as these factors not only influence cardiovascular health but also brain health.”
The researchers followed over 1,000 individuals with an average age of 72. The researchers evaluated how closely participants followed Life’s Simple Seven by the American Heart Association. The seven goals include lowering blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels, exercise, eat well, lose weight, and don’t smoke.
None of the recipients met all seven goals and only one percent met six of them.
At the start of the study, the participants’ memory was tested, along with thinking capability and brain processing. After six years, 722 participants completed the tests again to measure any changes.
At the follow-up, the researchers found that those individuals who met more heart-healthy habits also had better thinking, memory, and brain processing, compared to those who met a lesser number of heart-healthy habits. Gardener added, “The results suggest that vascular damage and metabolic processes may be important in cognitive performance and decline late in life.”
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, added, “This new study provides important evidence that further supports that heart health and brain health go together. The benefits of the heart health factors apply to all ages, and it is never too late to begin to make positive changes in lifestyle or make improvements in risk factors. It is critical to maintain a healthy body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”