Why a Healthy Brain Requires Taking Care of Your Heart

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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

There are plenty of reasons why you should take care of your heart, but if you need a new reason then consider this: A BYU study has found that there is a link between heart health and cognitive problems. Specifically, poor heart health correlated with issues like memory and learning impairment.

“What’s healthy for the heart also seems to be healthy for the brain,” said lead researcher Evan Thacker, assistant professor of health science at BYU, in a university released press statement. “Every element in our body is connected and keeping one part of it healthy helps keep other parts healthy.”

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study looked at over 17,000 subjects aged 45 and older with no history of stroke and with normal cognitive ability. The researchers used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 score – a quantitative value measured by assessing smoking status, healthy diet, physical activity, body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol and fasting glucose – to determine cardiovascular health and used other test to measure cognitive function.

Their findings were clear: Those who scored lower for cardiovascular health were more likely to score poorly on the cognitive tests than their peers with better heart health. To be more precise, 4.6 percent of subjects with diminished heart health showed cognitive impairment in the four-year follow-up while a mere 2.7 percent of those with intermediate cardiovascular health scores showed cognitive deterioration.

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