A new study shows the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to maintain good cardiovascular health at an advanced age as this prevention also proves to be effective with regard to cognitive decline.

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 Age gradually modifies the functioning of the heart and arteries, particularly in the case of poor lifestyle habits. Certain risk factors are real boosters of cardiovascular aging, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, abdominal obesity, sedentary lifestyle... Prevention is therefore important at any age, especially since taking care of your heart also means taking care of your brain, as revealed in a study conducted by researchers at Oxford University. The study states that preventing arterial stiffening earlier in a person's life could help delay the onset of dementia.

Researchers investigated 542 older adults who received two measures of aortic or arterial stiffness, at 64 and 68 years of age, a predictor of cardiovascular risk. At the same time, cognitive tests and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain assessed the size, connections and blood supply of different brain regions. The largest artery in the body (the aorta) stiffens with age, and the study found that faster aortic stiffening between mid-life and old age was linked to markers of poor brain health: reduced blood supply, reduced connectivity between different brain regions, and poor memory.

"A Link Between Heart Health and Brain Health"

The scientific team points out that medical interventions and especially lifestyle changes made earlier in life can help to slow down arterial stiffness such as Taking care of one's diet by limiting salt, alcohol, sugars and saturated fats, practicing 30 minutes a day of any kind of physical activity . Otherwise, complications can quickly arise: myocardial infarction, rhythm disorders, strokes, vascular dementia. As explained by the French Federation of Cardiology, "all these very simple keys to positive prevention must become automatic in order to keep a real health capital for as long as possible. »

For researchers, it is all the more important to highlight this link considering that in an aging society, dementia cases are expected to triple by 2050 to reach 115.4 million people according to World Health Organization estimates. "Our study links heart health to brain health. It gives us insight into the potential for reducing aortic stiffness to help maintain brain health in older people. Reduced connectivity between different brain regions is an early marker of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. ," explains Dr. Sana Suri.

She concludes: "Preventing these changes by reducing or slowing down the stiffening of the large blood vessels in our body may be one way to maintain brain health and memory as we age. "Note that vascular damage to the brain, especially after a stroke or several strokes, can lead to a condition called vascular dementia. In 2018, a study conducted by Inserm showed that maintaining so-called optimal cardiovascular health is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing dementia and a reduction in the cognitive decline associated with it.