A new study from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine has found evidence that suggests that keeping your heart healthy may also help your mind stay sharp later in life.
Hannah Gardener, an assistant scientist in neurology at the university, led a research team that followed more than 1,000 seniors with an average age of 72 years old. The researchers evaluated the participants to see how closely their daily habits were aligned with Life’s Simple Seven, the American Heart Association’s model for heart healthy living.
Life’s Simple Seven Goals:
- Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure strains the heart, arteries, and kidneys, raising the risk for heart disease and/or stroke.
- Control cholesterol levels: High cholesterol means more plaque, which can block arteries in the heart and lead to heart disease.
- Reduce blood sugar levels: Extreme levels of blood sugar can cause irreversible heart, kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
- Be active: People should shoot for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week to ensure a high quality of life.
- Healthy Eating: Eating a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups is very important, as well as limiting salt, sugar, saturated and trans fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Limiting excess body fat helps reduce heart risks and reduces the burden on your lungs, skeleton, and blood vessels.
- Avoid smoking: Smokers have been shown to have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as a host of other serious health problems.
At the beginning of their research, Gardener and her team tested volunteers for memory, thinking, and brain-processing speed. After six years, 722 of the participants repeated the same tests so researchers could measure any changes in thinking skills.
They found that participants who met more of the seven heart-healthy goals listed above had better brain processing speed at the beginning of the study. After following up, the research team reported that the participants that met more of the heart-healthy goals exhibited less deterioration in brain processing speed, memory, and function skills such as organization, focusing, and time management.
Gardener stated: “The results suggest that vascular damage and metabolic processes may be important in cognitive performance and decline late in life.” However, the research team added that more research is necessary to determine if regular heart healthy habits may help seniors maintain brain health.
Although the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between heart-healthy living and maintaining cognitive function, according to the American Heart Association meeting the Simple Seven heart-healthy goals may also have the potential to lower risk factors of stroke, diabetes, or heart attack.
Even if you are following the Life’s Simple Seven goals, cardiac issues can still present themselves, especially later on in life. Here at Cardiac Monitoring Service, we manufacture state of the art holter monitors and cardiac event monitors to help physicians track any possible heart abnormalities. This information can help to determine if patients may have a heart rhythm problem or any other heart condition that needs attention.
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