Healthy heart delays or prevent dementia. A new study shows the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to maintain good cardiovascular health in old age because this Prevention is also effective concerning cognitive decline.
Age gradually changes the functioning of the heart and arteries, especially in cases of poor hygiene. Certain risk factors are real boosters of cardiovascular ageing, such as arterial hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, diabetes, abdominal obesity, sedentary lifestyle.
Prevention is, therefore, vital at any age. That of especially as taking care of your heart would also take care of your brain. As it has been revealed by a study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford that preventing arterial stiffening earlier in a person’s life could help delay the onset of dementia.
The researchers investigated 542 older adults who received two measures of aortic or arterial stiffness, at age 64 and 68, a predictor of cardiovascular risk. In parallel, cognitive tests and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain assessed the size, connections and blood supply of different regions of the brain.
The largest artery in the body (the aorta) stiffens with age. The study found that faster aortic stiffening between mid-life and old age was linked to low brain health markers: reduced blood supply, reduced connectivity between different regions of the brain, and poor memory.
A link between heart health and brain health
The scientific team specifies that medical interventions and especially lifestyle changes made earlier in life can help slow down arterial stiffness such as Treat your diet by limiting salt, alcohol, sugars and saturated fat, practice 30 minutes a day all kinds of physical activity.
Otherwise, complications can very quickly arise: myocardial infarction, rhythm disturbances, cerebrovascular accidents, vascular dementia. As the French Federation of Cardiology explains, “all these straightforward keys to positive Prevention must become automatic mechanisms to keep real health capital as long as possible. “
For the researchers, it is all the more important to put this link forward because, in an ageing society, cases of dementia are expected to triple by 2050 to reach 115.4 million people according to the estimates of the ‘World Health Organization.
“Our study links heart health to brain health. It gives us insight into the potential for reducing aortic stiffness to help maintain brain health in older people. Reduced connectivity between various regions of the brain is an early marker of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. », Explains Dr Sana Suri.
She concludes: “Preventing these changes by reducing or slowing the stiffening of the large blood vessels in our body can be a way to maintain brain health and memory as we age. It should be noted that lesions to the brain of vascular origin, caused especially after a stroke or several small ones, can lead to a condition called “vascular dementia”.
In 2018, a study conducted by Inserm showed that maintaining so-called optimal cardiovascular health is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of developing dementia and attenuation of the cognitive decline.