Heart and Brain Health Closely Related

Caregiver, patient expert

For years the Alzheimer's Association has made good use of the catch phrase "what's good for the heart is good for the brain." As additional research is conducted in both areas, that simple phrase is proving to be solid thinking.

The startling admission of notable researchers who attended the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen that a healthy lifestyle is, at this point, the best hope we have to prevent or delay Alzheimer's symptoms underscores this concept. Not surprisingly, the lifestyle recommended for preventing Alzheimer's disease is also the lifestyle that is recommended for staving off heart attacks and stroke.

What can we do to protect our heart and our brain?

  • Exercise: Aerobic exercise increases the level of oxygen in the body. This type of  exercise conditions the heart and lungs to work more efficiently and maintain optimal oxygen uptake. When the heart receives enough oxygen it doesn't have to work as hard. This, in turn, makes the heart less susceptible to disease. This same aerobic exercise pumps oxygen rich blood to the brain which helps us think more clearly. While exercise cannot be considered a preventative or cure for Alzheimer's disease there are many studies that suggest it may play a protective role against cognitive decline.

There are of course many other considerations that factor into our heart and brain health. Genetics, employment history, exposure to chemicals and temperament are just a few.

However, if we are looking for what we can change right now, we are looking at lifestyle. Yes, it takes effort to exercise, eat well and at times it can take effort to make ourselves socialize. We may even need professional help to manage chronic stress. Yet, these changes can make an enormous difference in our heart and brain health which, in turn, translates into quality of life. Knowing that should make the effort worthwhile.

Carol is a newspaper columnist and the author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. She runs award winning websites at _ www.mindingourelders.com  and_ www.mindingoureldersblogs.com. Follow Carol @mindingourelder and on Facebook: Minding Our Elders

See More Helpful Articles:

One in Three Cases of Alzheimer's May be Lifestyle Related

Reversing Memory Loss: Non-Drug Approach Shows Promise

There Is Life After a Dementia Diagnosis

Arts Improve Quality of life for Stroke Survivors and People with Alzheimer's

Managing Diabetes Prevents Cognitive Decline According to Study