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Many of the same things people should do for a healthy heart, like exercising, eating well and avoiding cigarettes, can also help protect the brain from cognitive decline and dementia, according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.
Both the heart and brain need adequate blood flow. But blood vessels can narrow and harden over time, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as cognitive decline, according to an advisory the organizations published in the journal Stroke.
Odds - Type - Blood - Vessel - Damage
The odds of this type of blood vessel damage, known as atherosclerosis, can be minimized by a healthy lifestyle and keeping blood pressure as well as sugars and cholesterol levels in the blood within safe range, the advisory authors note.
“Most health care providers are comfortable recommending healthy lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factor control measures to prevent heart attack and stroke,” said lead author Dr. Philip Gorelick, a researcher at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids.
Possibility - Factors - Heart - Attack - Stroke
“Many, however, are not aware of or knowledgeable about the possibility that many of the same basic factors that prevent heart attack and stroke may also prevent or delay the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia,” Gorelick said by email.
As lives stretch longer in the U.S. and elsewhere, about 75 million people worldwide could have dementia by 2030, according to the advisory.
Document - Importance - Steps - Brain - Atherosclerosis
The document stresses the importance of taking steps to keep the brain healthy as early as possible, because atherosclerosis can begin in childhood.
Elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, for example, can damage blood vessels, triggering complications that eventually reduce blood flow to the brain.
Conditions - Medications - Stresses - Benefit - Brain
Although these conditions can be managed with medications, the advisory stresses that the largest benefit to brain health and cognitive function may not always be found in pills.
“Although it is extremely important to control blood pressure...
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