“Keep your heart healthy and you may slow down the aging of your brain,” according to a new study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. People with a the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and other diseases that are related to a buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries have a higher potential to develop memory loss.

In a Boston University School of Medicine study, brains in people whose hearts pumped less blood appeared to be older than the brains of those pumping more blood. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests conducted on the 1,504 test subjects (mostly women) 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 the brain ages, it begins to shrink (atrophy) and has less volume. A decrease in volume is considered a sign of brain aging. In patients with dementia, or the most common form – Alzheimer’s disease, there was significant proof of more severe decrease in brain volume. The body size is directly proportionate to the volume of the brain, the more body fat the lesser the volume. That link was also observed by the researchers in participants who did not have any sign of heart failure or coronary heart disease.

Another recent study, conducted at the French National Institute for Health Research (NIH), concluded that Americans especially had a higher rate of developing vascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other “metabolic syndromes,” including age-related memory loss, due to our rising percentage of people with obesity.

The NIH study included a group of over 7,000  people, aged 65+ who tested positive for at least 3 major indicators of cardio-metabolic abnormalities. The markers include: hypertension, low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, hyperglycemia, high levels of triglycerides (fatty molecules), and excessive fat around the waistline.

Test subjects were tested for language skills, visual acuity and memory, and then divided into groups according to their gender, IQ scores and education levels.

Conclusions drawn from these clinical observations were that those with low HDL, the “good” cholesterol, showed a greater chance of overall memory loss. Those with diabetes showed an increased prevalence of reduction in word fluency and visual memory.

Scientists recommend improving your memory through a fitter lifestyle, which includes taking medications that will improve your blood pressure, lower your LDL (low-density lipoproteins – the “bad” cholesterol) levels, and equalize your blood sugar. They also recommend exercise and losing weight.

With this change in life plan you will lower your rise of heart disease and vascular-related illnesses like strokes, diabetes, and heart disease.  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.

We all know that physical exercise builds muscle and improves our overall health and well being. According to scientific studies, indications are that exercise can also increase brain size – leading to enhanced memory performance, in the long term as well as short term.

During the process of bringing your body back to health, a regiment of memory training and memory techniques will also help to keep your brain in good condition, and help to improve any damage done from a lifestyle that was not “brain healthy.”



Neurology website – Article: Metabolic syndrome and cognitive decline in French elders: The Three-City Study: http://www.neurology.org/content/76/6/518.full?sid=191d6cc0-06be-40b6-9074-11c81e6aefa4

Neurological ReviewThe Role of Metabolic Disorders in Alzheimer Disease and Vascular Dementia: http://archneur.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/66/3/300.pdf

American Heart Association: Brain may age faster in people whose hearts pump less blood: http://www.newsroom.heart.org/index.php?s=43&item=1085