Under the Hood

Does Heart Health Affect Cognitive Health?

Dementia has been a growing problem across the world, with the current 50 million patients expected to triple by 2050. As the condition continues to affect more people, the medical community has yet to fully understand its development and treatment. 

Dementia commonly occurs as an effect of aging. However, researchers discovered that there are other factors that may trigger its development. 

The risk of having the mental condition may increase due to diet and lifestyle factors. Surprisingly, dementia shares the same risks with heart disease, Monique Tello, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, said in a blog posted on Harvard Health

Previous studies suggested that Alzheimer’s disease were diagnosed in people with reduced brain blood flow. Other autopsy studies backed the findings that the disease is linked with vascular damage.

The problems in the arteries of the heart affect the arteries of the rest of the body, including the brain. Arteries play a significant role in the blood flow and oxygen delivery to the organs. 

Arterial damage has long been known to cause heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published its public health action plan to address the dementia crisis across the world. Compiling a number of studies, the document provides guidelines for the prevention of condition.

The guidelines appear similar to those designed for heart disease prevention, which focus on diet and lifestyle changes. 

WHO encourages people to engage in regular physical activity, eat a plant-based diet, avoiding toxic and inflammatory food, to quit smoking, and to reduce alcohol consumption. 

The dementia prevention guidelines also highlight the positive effects of some lifestyle factors. WHO said the risk of having the condition may be lowered by getting enough good sleep, establishing positive relationships, and social engagement.

“It appears that good brain blood flow is key for clearing those tubular proteins that can accumulate and become tangled in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients,” Tello said. “So one solid hypothesis is that anything that reduces brain blood flow can increase the risk for Alzheimer’s, and conversely, anything that increases blood flow can reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.”

Researchers have started efforts to understand the connection between dementia and heart health. 

brain Estimates show dementia affects 50 million people across the world, a figure expected to triple by 2050. Pixabay