How your heart health affects your Alzheimer’s risk

You know that living a heart-healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, but did you know it could also reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease? Your heart and brain health are closely linked, and following the advice of your cardiac care specialist to protect your heart could also protect your brain. Here is what you need to know.

How are the heart and the brain linked?
Although you can’t feel your brain working like you can feel your heart pumping, your brain is an extremely active organ. About 20% of the blood that your heart pumps goes directly to your brain to provide the cells there with food and oxygen.

If your heart doesn’t pump efficiently or if the blood vessels in the brain aren’t healthy, then the cells in your brain could be starved of the oxygen and nutrients they need. This lack of blood flow can lead to acute issues like strokes, and can also contribute to long-term brain health problems, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

How can I improve my heart and brain health?
There are several lifestyle adjustments that you can make to improve the health of your heart and brain. These ideas can help:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. People who are obese during middle age have twice the risk of developing dementia in their senior years.
  • Monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can lead to a six times higher risk of dementia.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes on most days.
  • Eat a diet low in saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol.
  • Don’t smoke, and quit if you do. Your physician can help.
  • Manage your blood glucose levels. Diabetes can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Good Samaritan Hospital is pleased to provide world-class neurology and cardiac care in San Jose to help patients achieve and maintain good heart and brain health. To make an appointment with one of our specialists, please call (888) 724-2362.

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