Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

brainOne of the best things you can do for your brain comes straight from the heart….literally. A new report, just released by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, suggests that maintaining a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle will help keep your brain healthy.


A heart-healthy lifestyle can improve brain health in adults and reduce the risk for cognitive decline, including dementia, according to a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association published in Stroke.

“Research summarized in the advisory convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis are also major contributors to late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Philip B. Gorelick, MD, MPH, FAHA, executive medical director of Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the chair of the advisory’s writing group, said in a press release. 

The key, according to a story in, is to follow a program called Life’s Simple 7.  The program was developed by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) and the seven steps are:

  • Manage blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Keep blood sugar normal
  • Get physically active
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Lose extra weight
  • Don’t start smoking or quit

According to NetDoctor, “Those following the seven steps lessen the risk of cognitive decline as they age while simultaneously reducing the risk of life threatening conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. This suggests that heart health and dementia are more closely linked than one might think, as Vascular neurologist Dr Philip Gorelick, who worked on the plan, explains:

“Over time the arteries carrying blood to the brain may narrow or become aged, which can lead to dementia. The good news is that managing risk factors – and managing them early on – can keep those arteries strong and make a world of difference for our long-term brain health.”

Time Magazine put together a short video on the connection between a healthy heart and a healthy brain. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.

brain_heart quoted Dr Laura Phipps from Alzheimer’s Research UK, as saying:

“Our brains don’t operate in isolation from the rest of our bodies and we know that many things people can do to promote physical health, can also have a positive impact on the brain. This report focuses on the role of  in keeping our brains functioning better for longer, and highlights action people can take to support both these areas of health. The authors recommend not smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, staying active, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight – factors that have emerged again and again in research exploring links between lifestyle and the health of our brains.”

Let us know what you think about this research on the connection between a healthy heart and a healthy brain. Encouraging our partners to share their thoughts and ideas on the health issues making headlines will help us take another step toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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