We already know that health is holistic, with all parts of your body working together and impacting one another. But with regard to brain health, we now have a much deeper understanding of how it is linked to cardiovascular health in particular.
A new report from the Global Council on Brain Health confirms this link. The working group of health care professionals, researchers, and policy experts released a statement urging older adults in particular to pay attention to the ways in which cardiovascular and brain health are related, and to take steps to protect them both.
The report details the latest findings on heart and brain health, and lists recommendations we can all implement to improve outcomes. One top recommendation is to check your blood pressure regularly, and work closely with your healthcare professional to address high blood pressure when necessary.
That’s because new evidence shows that those who maintain a healthy blood pressure (12/80 or lower) are less likely to develop cognitive impairment with age. Mild cognitive impairment, such as memory loss and difficulty solving problems, is often the first signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Those with higher blood pressure are at higher risk of these disorders.
Recommendations for lowering blood pressure include:
- Exercise regularly, such as a daily walk
- Eat a healthy diet as prescribed by a physician or nutritionist
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Smoking cessation
- Take prescribed medications when necessary, to lower blood pressure
In addition to monitoring blood pressure and taking steps to lower it, experts also recommend that we all address blood sugar levels. Exercise and a healthy diet to control blood pressure can also be effective at lowering blood sugar.
Discuss your blood pressure with your healthcare provider at your next annual physical, and if your blood pressure has measured high in the past, continue to monitor it while implementing lifestyle changes to address your heart and brain health.