Steps to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke May Ward Off Aging-related Memory Loss
Autopsies show that memory loss and changes in thinking skills and personality are more likely to have occurred when tangles and clumps are accompanied by signs of strokes and narrowed, clogged blood vessels feeding the brain. In other words, improving blood flow to the brain and working to prevent strokes may maintain memory well into old age.
The Harvard Heart Letter recommends these strategies:
Exercise -- Walk, cycle, garden, dance better yet, do them all to keep both brain and body in shape. Research suggests that the variety of exercise, not just how much or how hard you exercise, may help prevent dementia.
Keep blood pressure levels low. Untreated high blood pressure speeds aging-related decay in thinking skills and memory.
Choose dietary fat wisely. Eating a lot of saturated and trans fat may promote dementia, while omega-3 fats (found in cold-water fish and some plants) may protect against the buildup of protein clumps in the brain.
Also in this issue:
Nitroglycerin for chest pain,
Artery-opening procedures for peripheral artery disease,
Limits of new blood tests for heart disease.
The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $28 per year. Subscribe at www.health.harvard.edu/heart
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