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Good Heart, Good Brain

By Jessica Boden
Posted On Jul 27, 2011

One of the new strategies for fighting mental impairment as we grow older is to identify people at riskā€”and then to change their lifestyles in order to prevent or postpone dementia, which now affects a third of people over 80. Supporting this strategy, last week the American Heart Association released a statement confirming that people who are headed for heart disease are also headed for dementia. In their online report, the AHA said that the same artery-clogging diseases that lead to stroke or heart failure can also result in cognitive impairments to thinking and/or memory. The culprit is the reduced flow of blood to the oxygen hungry brain. The good news? The preventative regimen is the same as that for heart disease: good nutrition, regular exercise, low blood pressure, low cholesterol, and no smoking. “Generally speaking, what is good for the heart is good for the brain,” says Philip Gorelick, M.D., co-chair of the report and director of the Center for Stroke Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “Although it is not definitely proven yet, treatment or prevention of major risk factors for stroke and heart disease may prove to also preserve cognitive function with age.”

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