According to a new American Heart Association/American Stroke Association scientific statement published online in “Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association”, the atherosclerotic changes in the vessels that lead to various heart diseases have also been linked to age-related vascular cognitive impairments (VCI), also called as dementia.
The highlights of the statement include:
• A high blood pressure can lead to VCIs.
• A healthy heart is linked to a healthy brain.
• Patients likely to develop dementia can be identified earlier by screening the elderly for heart and stroke risk factors.
Dementia increases with an advancing age and almost 30% elderly above the age of 80 are affected by it. According to Philip B. Gorelick, M.D., M.P.H., co-chair of the writing group for the statement and director of the Center for Stroke Research at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine at Chicago, dementia resulting from a combination of cerebrovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia found among the elderly.
Cerebrovascular diseases result because of an impaired blood flow to the brain due to atherosclerotic changes in the vessels. These atherosclerotic plaques develop in the arteries because of elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and other risk factors. Regular exercising, eating a healthy diet, maintaining adequate body weight and avoiding tobacco so as to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under check can help in reducing heart diseases and stroke. According to Dr. Gorelick, these same steps when taken timely, may prevent or slow the development of dementia in some people.
Remember that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain. There are strong indications that treatment or prevention of major risk factors for stroke and heart disease may prove to also preserve cognitive function with age. The statement issued by the American Heart Association has also been endorsed by the American Academy of Neurology and the Alzheimer’s Association.