Call it “hippie nonsense” all you want, but there is a definite connection between the mind and body. In recent years, more and more scientific research has examined how physical health impacts mental function, and the other way around.

A new study from the University of Glasgow has found that people with cardiometabolic diseases perform worse on mental tests of reasoning, memory, and reaction time. Additionally, this effect is even greater when a person has more than one of these diseases — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or coronary heart disease (CHD), according to Medical Xpress. 

Researchers examined data from the UK Biobank, which was taken between 2006 and 2010. After analyzing the medical history and number of cardiometabolic diseases of nearly half a million participants, the team also compared their scores on tests of reasoning, reaction time, and memory, Medical Xpress reported. 

"Having one disease was associated with poorer performance on all the cognitive tests; but having two diseases was worse and three worse still, particularly for reaction times and reasoning,” explained researcher Dr. Donald Lyall, according to Medical Xpress. "Importantly our analysis took account of lots of things which might have resulted in an erroneous result; such as medication usage, gender, age, deprivation, education levels, depression, smoking history, alcohol intake, and obesity."

Previously, research has linked cardiometabolic diseases with declined cognitive abilities. The new study was the first to link multiple diseases to impaired cognitive skills. 

"Our findings highlight the potential to protect against cognitive decline by addressing other conditions such as heart disease," Dr. Lyall said. "The reduction in mental test scores was relatively small for individuals, but may expand as people age."

Source: Lyall DM, Celis-Morales CA, Anderson J, Gill JMR, Mackay GF, Smith DJ, et al. Associations between single and multiple cardiometabolic diseases and cognitive abilities in 474 129 UK Biobank participants. European Heart Journal. 2016.

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