Bottom line: Avoid cardiovascular risk factors to prevent or slow cognitive decline.
The evidence: A study in the journal Neurology (April 2, 2013) compared the scores of nearly 8,000 older adults on two widely used health assessment tools. Participants also took tests assessing cognition 3 times over 10 years to identify declines in memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and verbal fluency. The Framingham Risk Score (from the long-running Framingham Heart Study) was strongly associated with declines in 4 out of 5 cognitive tests.
My take: Here are some strategies to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease (and thus potentially help protect your brain from dementia): 1) Have regular medical exams to help identify cardiovascular risks early and to get advice about risk-reducing maneuvers; 2) Check your blood pressure regularly (a systolic or top number more than 140 or a diastolic bottom number over 90 may increase the threat to your brain; 3) Manage medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol; and 4) Enjoy a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced, low-calorie diet (low in saturated fats, sugar, and salt), exercise regularly (try 30 minutes, 5x per week of the equivalent of a brisk walk). Avoid smoking, and use alcohol in moderation.
I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and thanks for visiting. Please consider following the blog (click the button on this page) if you like what you have read.
Reference: Mind, Mood & Memory, Aug 2013.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide you with accurate and timely medical news and information. It is not intended to give personal advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician or other valued health care professional. Acting on any information without first consulting a medical professional is solely at the reader’s risk.