How are your Brain and Your Heart Connected? Tina Burton, MD, a vascular neurologist with Lifespan, says, “Our heart and brain are tightly linked. A healthy heart translates to a healthy brain.”
· The brain is nourished by one of the body's most complex webs of blood vessels. Roughly a quarter of your blood is pumped to the head with every heartbeat, where brain cells use the food and oxygen carried by the blood in order to function.
· When the heart or blood vessels don’t work properly, it can cause damage to the brain, increasing the risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Heart Health and Brain Health Go Hand in Hand Many experts believe controlling the risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting a healthy brain. You can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, and accompanying problems with brain function, simply by modifying your lifestyle.
Recommendations for a healthy heart and brain include:
· Eating right: A heart-healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with limited sugar and saturated fats, may help protect the brain. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet in particular are recommended to keep body and mind in peak condition and maintain an overall healthy weight.
· Exercising: Whether you prefer to walk, jog, lift weights or attend a yoga class, exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. It not only has cardiovascular benefits, it also helps lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain.
· Avoiding smoking: Smoking cigarettes has been proven to cause all kinds of health problems, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease, lung diseases including COPD and emphysema, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. With all of these negative effects, it’s not surprising smoking also decreases brain function.
The Takeaway: Take care of your heart and you’ll take care of your brain.
Although healthy behaviors should ideally begin at an early age and continue throughout your life, it’s never too late to start making good decisions for your body.
Sources Lifespan What’s Good for Your Heart is Good for Your Brain Lifespan Blog Team, February 8, 2019
Healthgrades What’s Good for Your Heart is Good for Your Brain By Gwen Rice Last Updated: August 7, 2020