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Video: Caring For Heart Health Can Protect The Brain From Age-related Changes
Caring for heart health can protect the brain from age-related changes
Scientists have found that the higher the cardiovascular risk, the greater the likelihood of cognitive decline. Controlling the risk of heart disease can help prevent dementia.
"The doctor measures the patient's pulse", Frans Van Miris, XVII century. Photo: Wellcome Collection
Specific risk factors indicate the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases: obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, smoking, gender, age. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that people at high cardiovascular risk are more likely to develop cognitive impairments with age, including Alzheimer's. Scientists speculate that preventing cardiovascular disease may be an important way to maintain brain health.
"There are many specific cardiovascular risk factors that can precipitate various aspects of cognitive decline," Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Cornell Medical College Medical Center, told CNN.
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In a new study, scientists compared the severity of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and the dynamics of cognitive decline. For 21 years, the authors followed more than 1,500 people who did not suffer from dementia at the beginning of the study. Participants were on average 79.5 years old at the start of the study. Every year they took tests for different types of memory and mental acuity.
Episodic memory (for current routine events), working (short-term) memory and speed of perception suffered most rapidly against the background of a high cardiovascular risk.
During the study, some of the patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Her results showed that an increase in cardiovascular risk is associated with disorders in the hippocampus and in the gray matter of the brain. Such changes are often associated with Alzheimer's disease.
“High blood pressure and diabetes can accelerate changes in the brain. High cholesterol levels can contribute to the deposition of harmful proteins in the brain in people with Alzheimer's. Decreased blood flow can produce “white spots” on MRI that are associated with slower thinking,”said Professor Isaacson, commenting on the link between risk factors for cardiovascular disease and brain health.
The study authors note that, in the absence of effective treatments for dementia, it is very important to control cardiovascular risk in order to maintain people's cognitive health deteriorating with age.