7 ‘simple’ steps for heart health may also stave off dementia
The American Heart Association (AHA) strives to reduce death from heart disease or related conditions like strokes. One way they are doing so is via their guideline for cardiovascular health, which is known as “Life’s Simple 7”. Heart health is important for every age group, but especially for those 50 and older. The AHA recommends adopting seven measures to ensure that your heart is beating its best.
Seven measures for optimal heart health
- Manage blood pressure
- Manage cholesterol
- Lower blood sugar
- Stay physically active
- Follow a healthful diet
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking (or don’t start)
Link between heart health and dementia
Now, a new study lead by Séverine Sabia, of the Department of Epidemiology of Ageing and Neurodegenerative Diseases at Inserm, a public research institution affiliated with the Université de Paris in France, is seeking to examine the link between the “Simple 7” and the risk of developing dementia later in life. While following the steps above leads to a healthier day-to-day life, the long term benefits also appear to be significant, especially for your brain’s grey matter.
By tracking 50-year-olds who adhered to the AHA’s recommendations for cardiovascular health for 25 years, Sabia’s team was able to study the prevalence of dementia in a clinically significant sample size. The study tracked 7,899 participants, all British men and women who were 50 years old, in perfect cardiovascular health and showing no signs of dementia. After 25 years, 347 (.04%) of the total participants had developed dementia at an average age of 75.
To further understand their results, the researchers developed a scale to understand how adherence to the AHA guidelines relate to the onset of dementia. The “cardiovascular health score was the sum of seven metrics (score range 0–14). The researchers then categorized these as follows:
- Poor (scores 0–6)
- Intermediate (7–11)
- Optimal (12–14) cardiovascular health
Researchers found that adherence to the rules—aka an optimal cardiovascular health score—correlates with a lower risk of dementia, higher brain volume and higher grey matter volume. Specifically, the results were as follows:
- In the group with a poor cardiovascular score, dementia occurred at a rate of 3.2 cases per 1,000 persons.
- In the group with an intermediate cardiovascular score, the rate was 1.8 per 1,000 persons.
- While only 1.3 cases of dementia occurred per 1,000 persons among those who scored the highest.
While this study is observational and therefore unable to establish causality, and self-reporting from patients may increase bias, the overall findings seem to indicate that good cardiovascular health in your 50s leads to a healthier brain in your 70s.
If you have been diagnosed with or are managing a cardiovascular condition, contact us today for a Medical Second Opinion to ensure that you are on the best path forward: https://www.worldcare.com/contact/