Is There a Link Between Heart Disease and Dementia?

Posted on September 10, 2018 by Family Physicians in Trinity

Is There a Link Between Heart Disease and Dementia?

Heart disease is commonly seen as a condition that only affects the vascular system, but the truth is that a weak or diseased heart can harm many other parts of your body’s interconnected system. Research now shows that heart disease and dementia are linked. Rebecca F. Gottesman, M.D., Phd., the lead researcher at John Hopkins University explains, “The health of your vascular system in midlife is really important to the health of your brain when you are older.”

Direct Correlations Between Heart Disease and Dementia

A long-term study by John Hopkins University followed nearly 16,000 people for 30 years and came to a few indisputable conclusions. Of the 1,516 study participants who developed dementia as they aged, the risk of dementia was much higher among patients with poor cardiovascular health and lifestyle choices.

The risk of dementia was 41 percent higher for midlife smokers than non or former smokers, 39 percent higher for people with high blood pressure in middle age, and a whopping 77 percent higher for those with diabetes in midlife. According to Gottesman, “Diabetes raises the risk [of dementia] almost as much as the most important known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”

What Does This Mean For Brain Health?

This study once again proves that healthy lifestyle choices can positively impact cognitive functions as well. Any actions taken to protect the heart will also protect the brain: exercise, a healthy diet, losing weight, quitting smoking, minimizing stress, and taking control of diabetes, to name a few. The knowledge that middle age health could negatively or positively impact the future could propel more people to make better lifestyle choices.

Simple Steps to Improve Brain Health With Better Heart Health

Improving your heart health - and thus your brain health - doesn’t have to be challenging or stressful. Adding exercise into your regular routine is one of the easiest ways to start. You don’t have to start jogging ten miles each day, but incorporate movement by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk after dinner, or trying a group fitness class. Every bit helps, and over time your body will even start to crave physical movement.

Next, talk to your doctor about quitting smoking. There are many medications designed to make withdrawal from nicotine less painful, and alternative therapies like acupuncture can also help.

Drink more water, add a few fruits and veggies into your meals, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier heart and brain.

When in doubt, call (727) 375-5885 to make an appointment with your physician at Family Medical Center in Trinity or Port Richey, Florida.