When you think of improving cognition, do you only think about ways to keep your brain healthy? Taking a more holistic approach to fortifying the different systems in the body may be the step you’re missing in your cognitive enhancement strategy—and as it turns out, focusing on your heart health may be one of the bigger factors!
This past May, research has come to us from the European Heart Journal which linked accelerated cognitive decline with cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers tested reaction time in over thirty-thousand adult participants against cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and detailed measures of heart ventricle volumes and aortic strain.
Although the scientific community has long been aware that cognitive impairments and age-related cognitive conditions have been associated with cardiac risk factors, the reasons why had not yet been pinpointed. In this latest study, a direct interaction between the heart and brain points to a pathway in which disruptions in cardiac blood flow affect the brain and cause poorer cognitive function!
This closer look at how much strain the aorta of the heart is capable of handling uncovered better cognitive performance in the participants with better cardiovascular health. Researchers believe it’s a combination of blood flow, inflammatory molecules, and the amyloid-beta plaques which accumulate not only in the brains of those people suffering from a cognitive impairment condition; but also in the heart tissue.
Focusing on cardiovascular health could be an important part of achieving and maintaining your cognitive function, especially as you age! Keeping heart health in mind translates to keeping inflammation low through balanced a diet, good choices, lower stress levels, and keeping up a physically active lifestyle.
Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, Amine M'Charrak, Celeste McCracken, et a. Associations of cognitive performance with cardiovascular magnetic resonance phenotypes in the UK Biobank, European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Imaging, 2021;, jeab075, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehjci/jeab075