A study by the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association outlines seven steps we can all take to keep our brains healthy as we age and prevent dementia.
Over time, our arteries tend to get stuck with deposits of fat and other toxins. This process is called atherosclerosis, and is a risk factor for pathologies such as chronic kidney disease or coronary heart disease. Occasionally, atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The advice, published in Stroke magazine, underlines the fact that many of the factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis can also impair cognitive health over time.
“Research convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis are also the major contributors to late life and Alzheimer’s disease. By following seven simple steps, we can not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, we can also be capable of preventing cognitive impairment, “said study consultant Philip Gorelick.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 182 scientific studies, looking for factors that could be “measured, monitored and modified,” identifying seven metrics that they believe can keep brain health at optimum levels. Four of these are “ideal health behaviors” and three are “ideal health factors”.
The recommended healthy behaviors are: not smoking , maintaining a high level of physical activity, following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight; the health factors are: keeping blood pressure levels below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm / Hg), cholesterol levels below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL), and blood sugar levels fasting below 100 mg / dL.
The 7 Grails of Brain Health
1. Control blood pressure
2. Control cholesterol
3. Keep blood sugar in normal levels
4. Be physically active
5. Eat a healthy diet
6. Losing weight
7. No smoking
The seven metrics found in the new report correspond to the so-called Life’s Simple 7, a program developed by the American Stroke Association with the goal of promoting cardiovascular health throughout the population.
“Arteries that carry blood to the brain may become narrowed or damaged, which can lead to dementia. The good news is that managing risk factors can keep those arteriesstrong and make a difference for our long-term brain health, “Gorelick confirms.
These recommendations are particularly important, say the authors, given the prevalence of dementia predicted worldwide. Today, more than 7 million new cases of dementia every year, and by 2030, up to 75 million people could develop such a condition.