Thursday, December 07, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., have found a link between heart health and memory issues. Specifically, that poor blood flow from the heart can lead to reduced blood flow in the brain’s temporal lobe — the region where Alzheimer’s pathology begins.
For the purposes of their research, the team recruited 314 participants with an average age of 73 from the Vanderbilt Memory & Aging Project, an ongoing and longitudinal study that focuses on brain aging and heart health. Roughly 39 percent or a third of the participants had mild cognitive impairments, while the rest had normal cognitive function. Each of the participants underwent echocardiagrams and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the strength of their hearts or cardiac index and the blood flow in their brains, respectively.
The researchers discovered that a low cardiac index corresponded with decreased blood flow to the brain. According to MedicalNewsToday.com, blood flow to the left temporal lobe was lower by an average of 2.4 milliliters (ml) of blood per 100 grams (g) of tissue per minute for every unit decrease in cardiac index. The team noted that, on average, this reduction in blood flow is typically expected with 15 years of aging. By contrast, the flow of blood to the right temporal lobe was reduced by an average of 2.5 ml per 100 g of tissue per minute, amounting to over 20 years of aging.
Furthermore, the team came to these results after making the necessary adjustments for numerous factors that could affect blood flow. These included the participants’ age, mild cognitive impairment diagnosis, and whether or not they had the apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 gene, a protein linked to the increased risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
“The primary finding was that lower cardiac index related to lower cerebral blood flow in the temporal lobes, the brain’s memory center and the area where Alzheimer’s disease first develops in the brain,” said Dr. Angela Jefferson, lead author of the study and director of the Vanderbilt Memory & Alzheimer’s Center. “The magnitude of these associations corresponded to 15 to 20 years of advanced aging.”
Jefferson added: “It is increasingly well-recognized that there is an important connection between heart health and brain health. Managing blood pressure and diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity are a few of the things older adults can do to maintain good heart health, which may have very important implications for preserving good brain health.” (Related: Optimal cholesterol ratios not only good for the heart, but also lower Alzheimer’s disease risk.)
Of course, exercise remains one of the best ways to keep your heart, and subsequently your brain, in optimal shape. Firstly, physical activity strengthens your heart muscle and boosts its ability to pump blood to the various parts of your body. Secondly, exercise promotes smoother and better blood flow by preventing the formation of arterial clogging. These are in addition to keeping your weight down and improving your sleep, all of which can help improve the health of your heart and cut down your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
But not all exercise is equal: some exercises are better for your heart than others, and these exercises fall squarely into that category:
Combine these exercises with a healthy diet and you’ve got yourself a surefire plan to minimize your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you’d like to view more stories on how you can keep this disease at bay, then feel free to visit Alzheimers.news today.