Your Heart Health Can Affect Your Brain

A study at Boston University School of Medicine confirms that people with a risk of coronary heart disease, vascular disease and stroke, as well as other diseases that relate to the buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries, have a higher than average potential for developing memory loss. In other words, if you “Keep your heart healthy and you may slow down the aging of your brain.”

The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that the brains of people who had less blood flowing to their hearts also had less blood flowing to their brains. The less blood the less oxygen, and our brains need oxygen in order the function at full potential.

MRI tests (Magnetic resonance imaging) were conducted on 1,504 volunteers (mostly women). They showed the relationship between the amount of blood pumped and a person’s “cardiac index” — or amount of blood pumped through a person’s body in relation to their body size. As a part of normal aging the brain begins to shrink (atrophy) and has less volume. Decrease in volume is an indicator of brain aging. Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (The most popular form of dementia) show extreme decrease in brain volume. The size of the body is directly proportionate to the volume of the brain, the more body fat the lesser the volume. As a matter of fact, researchers observed this link also in the participants who did not have any sign of heart failure or coronary heart disease.

A study conducted in France at the French National Institute for Health Research (NIH) found that Americans were especially susceptible to a higher risk of developing vascular diseases, including type2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, that can lead to memory loss. They attribute this to the rising percentage of obesity in Americans.

Over 7,000 volunteers were included in the NIH study. The subjects were ages 65 and older and had tested positive for at least three major indicators of cardio-metabolic abnormalities. The markers include:

  • Hypertension
  • Low HDL (high-density lipoproteins)
  • High cholesterol
  • Hyperglycemia
  • High levels of triglycerides (fatty molecules)
  • Excessive fat around the waistline

The volunteers were then given memory tests, as well tests for language skills and visual acuity. They were then divided into groups according to their gender, IQ scores, and education levels.

Researchers found that those with low HDL, the “good” cholesterol, showed a greater chance of overall memory loss. Subjects with diabetes showed an increased prevalence of reduction in word fluency and visual memory.

Recommendations to improving memory and prolong quality of life should include a fitter lifestyle, which should include if necessary, taking medications that will improve blood pressure, lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels, and level your blood sugar. They also recommend exercise and losing weight. This “memory fitness friendly” lifestyle will make great strides in improving your memory, makes more use of your brain, and will allow you to retain your cognitive vitality into old age.

Memory Training

From the desk of Ron White, two time USA Memory Champion

 Memory Training


Neurology website – Article: Metabolic syndrome and cognitive decline in French elders: The Three-City Study:

Neurological ReviewThe Role of Metabolic Disorders in Alzheimer Disease and Vascular Dementia:

American Heart Association: Brain may age faster in people whose hearts pump less blood:

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