Good for your heart? Good for your brain

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Sometimes people are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke due to risk factors they cannot control.  Such risk factors may include advanced age, family history or ethnicity.  There are risk factors you can control, however, to help improve both heart and brain health.

It starts with your heart. It is the heart’s job to pump and circulate blood throughout the body, including the brain.  The brain receives 15 to 20 percent of the body’s blood supply.  The blood brings many materials necessary for the brain to function properly and also removes materials from the brain.

As the brain ages, it naturally begins to shrink and lose volume.  Therefore, a healthy heart is important because the stronger it can pump blood, the healthier and bigger your brain may be.

To keep your heart and brain healthy:

•Watch your numbers

•Blood pressure – desirable blood pressure is less than 120/80

•Blood sugar – desirable fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL

•Body weight – keep your body weight in the recommended range

•Cholesterol – desirable cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL

•Make healthy lifestyle choices

•Stay mentally active

•Remain socially involved

•Stay physically active

•Reduce your intake of fat and cholesterol

•Don’t smoke

Resources: AARP. (2010).  Heart Health Linked to How the Brain Ages.  American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, and the Alzheimer’s Association.  (2011).  What’s Good for Your Heart is Good for Your Brain.

Source: Amy Hosier, Extension Family Life Specialist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.