Heart Health & Dementia Risk
An international research team reached this conclusion after examining data on the cardiovascular health of 7,899 British men and women at age 50. None had heart disease or dementia at the time, but 25 years later 347 of them had been diagnosed with dementia. The researchers found that the incidence of dementia was 3.2 per 1000 person years among those who had a poor cardiovascular health score at age 50, based on seven healthy habits outlined by the American Heart Association. The dementia incidence was 1.8 per 1000 person years among those with an intermediate score, and 1.3 per 1000 person years among those who had an optimal score. Bottom line: cardiovascular health at age 50 may have a bearing on the risk of dementia later in life. The upside is that cardiovascular risk factors can be modified, which – if these new findings hold true – could help prevent dementia later in life.
My take? These are interesting conclusions, and you certainly should do all you can to optimize your heart health whatever your age. An additional step you can take to help lower the risk of dementia is maintaining a positive attitude (a positive emotional state may help ward off cognitive decline). Social ties, involvement in church and community, and meaningful relationships also seem to be protective. Other measures include keeping your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for multi-infarct dementia. Regular aerobic exercise can also help maintain memory function as can keeping your mind active.
Séverine Sabia et al, “Association of ideal cardiovascular health at age 50 with incidence of dementia: 25–year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study.” BMJ, August 7, 2019; l4414 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l4414
More from this week’s bulletin:
- Optimistic People Sleep Better
- A New Way to Check Blood Pressure
- A Recipe For Summer Berries! Almond Fruit Tart