A brand-new study is showing just how much heart health impacts brain health. And the result is that the two seem absolutely inseparable.
The largest and longest study of its kind—featuring nearly 8,000 people and lasting 15 years—showed that if heart health falters, thinking ability and memory do too.
During the study, which featured healthy people aged 40 and over, six percent went on to develop angina or suffer a heart attack. Patients who suffered from angina displayed significant declines in “temporal orientation,” meaning the ability to accurately state the correct date, time, month, and year. Those who suffered a heart attack experienced substantial declines in verbal fluency, verbal memory, and overall cognition.
It appears that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.
The brain may follow the heart for a couple of reasons. One may be that when oxygenated blood is not able to easily flow to the brain, it can begin to degrade. Another is that chronic inflammation increases the risk for heart health and dementia. So, the best advice for you is to look at health holistically and understand that lifestyle choices can keep both your heart and brain functioning well. The beautiful part is that what’s good for one is good for the other.
Getting exercise every day and eating a heart-healthy diet that limits inflammation seems to be the keys to heart and brain health. Limiting stress, not smoking or drinking too much, and getting better sleep are also important factors. If you’re not sure where to start, the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet are both good options to promote brain and heart health. They are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants to help improve overall health and reduce inflammation, while not leading to any inflammation or potential health troubles.
The data is in—your heart and your head need the same stuff to be healthy. Take care of the heart to maintain brain health.