Why Heart Health is Vital for Brain Health

Here’s a good reason to keep your heart hearty: your mind. Recent research suggests that unhealthy heart habits may impair brain function—no matter your age. While it may seem obvious, the same unhealthy habits that harm your heart, such as smoking and eating high-fat foods, also impact your brain.
So…what is the head-heart connection? The heart, which supplies blood throughout the body, is impacted by unhealthy habits that can cause blood vessels to narrow. This in turn can impact blood flow to your brain. As Gwinnett Medical Group cardiologist Mary Ellen Bergh, MD emphasizes, “Your brain, more so than any other organ, is especially sensitive to blood flow impairment. This can happen suddenly and the consequences can be devastating. If your brain has inadequate blood flow, your mind may suffer glitches in memory. Over time, uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to stroke and has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s dementia."

A Closer Look at Brain Health

Your mind ages—just like your body. Forgetting words or losing track of your car keys is normal. Poor heart health, though, may worsen the problem and increase your likelihood of developing serious diseases of the mind, such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer disease. In fact, vascular dementia is a direct result of restricted blood flow to the brain. Alzheimer disease is more common amongst individuals with high blood pressure.

A Closer Look at Heart Health

The cardiovascular system, made up of the heart and the blood vessels throughout the body, is extensive. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an all too common condition with millions of U.S. adults having one or more forms of CVD. In fact, cardiovascular disease is made up of five common forms; rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, ischemic heart disease (coronary heart disease), cerebrovascular disease and inflammatory heart disease.

How to Build up Brain and Heart Health

Exercise regularly. Physical activity boosts blow flood throughout the body, even the brain.

Don’t smoke. It’s a leading risk factor for heart troubles and other diseases.

Watch what you eat. Avoid foods high in saturated fat. Over time, they can clog arteries, limiting blood flood.

Maintain a healthy weight. Research shows obesity contributes to heart disease and dementia.

Invigorate your mind. Do crossword puzzles or read books. Want to go more high tech? Some research suggests video games may help keep the brain sharp.

Stay involved. Social interaction with family and friends can liven up your life and reduce stress on the heart and brain.

Mind your heart numbers. Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

Heart health is vital to your health overall. However, it can be hard to know where to start. The best thing you can do is to be proactive about caring for your heart and mind; find the right primary care physician for you. Begin making lifestyle changes as well; even one lifestyle change for your heart reduces your risk for heart disease and supports overall health. In the event that you or a loved one is in need of a heart specialist, Gwinnett Medical Center can provide compassionate, expert care. 




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