A new research found that keeping a healthy heart may help you have a sharp mind for longer.
Researchers at the University of Miami Medical School found that seniors fared much better in brain tests when they also had a lifestyle that protected their heart’s health.
Participants with a healthier heart usually stayed away from cigarettes, were physically active, kept their weight in check, and ate foods that don’t increase blood pressure or cholesterol.
Dr. Hannah Gardener, senior researcher involved in the study, noted that the new research found a link between measures to prevent cardiovascular disease and a good brain health.
The study involved more than 1,000 participants with the average age of 72. They were all Northern Manhattan residents, and two-thirds were Hispanic.
Volunteers were asked whether they adopted any of the following healthy lifestyle choices: being non- or ex-smokers, exercising for at least 150 minutes every week, maintaining a normal weight, having a diet that promotes heart health such as diets rich in fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but poor in salt and added sugars.
The participants’ blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar were also measured.
Nevertheless, none of the study participants embraced all the above mentioned lifestyle choices and had their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in normal ranges. But 1 percent were able to stick to six of these heart-healthy goals. Roughly 30 percent hit only three goals, while one-third hit two.
Participants were also asked to undergo several cognitive tests twice: at the beginning of the study, and six years later respectively. About 720 participants were able to do the tests six years later.
The study revealed that there is a link between a healthy heart and high scores in cognitive tests, which measured brain processing speed, attention span, and the ability to complete tasks quickly.
But those who did not smoke, had a normal weight or kept their blood sugar in check fared even better in tests. A research paper detailing the findings was published this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Furthermore, volunteers who achieved more goals were more likely to have a sharper brain despite old age. Dr. Jeffrey Burns of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, who did not take part in the study, noted that the latest findings are in line with past research that had revealed a link between a healthy heart and an optimal brain function.
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