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  • Writer's pictureTo Your Health Editorial Staff

Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

Your heart and your brain are perhaps the two most important organs you want to keep in tip-top shape for a lifetime. Unfortunately, too often cardiovascular issues and cognitive disease can put the heart and brain, respectively, at serious risk.

But here's the good news: keeping one healthy appears to keep the other healthy, too!

That's because new research suggests heart disease can increase brain dysfunction and could even lead to Alzheimer's disease. Published in eLife, the study authors note, "Neurovascular coupling is a critical brain mechanism whereby changes to blood flow accompany [localized] neural activity." According to study findings, atherosclerosis (a hallmark of heart disease characterized by thickening / build-up of plaque in the arteries, often caused by cholesterol deposits) is damaging to neurovascular health, which can impact brain health by reducing blood flow. Cardiovascular risk factors also can make Alzheimer's related plaques ("amyloid" plaques) in those with a genetic predisposition even more pronounced.

In other words, if you don't keep your heart healthy, you could be putting your brain at risk; which means the opposite is true: maintaining a healthy heart will help keep your brain healthy! Keys to heart health include regular physical activity; a healthy diet low in saturated fat and sugar, and with plenty of "good cholesterol / fats" (sources: olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, etc.); and stress management / reduction.

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