Take care of your heart if you want to stay smart. Heart disease is bad for your brain. If you can reduce your risk of heart disease, you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. I just figured that out this week. It was Bix's consideration of cognitive decline in heart disease patients that prompted me to put two and two together...
Lately, I've been focusing on how cinnamon, cocoa, and fish oil are good for the heart. I've been ignoring information about how they're supposed to help your brain stay sharp as you age. Is there a connection? Well, if your coronary arteries are clogging up, other arteries are probably clogging up, too. Like the ones in your head.
Bypass surgery can save your life, and the mild cognitive damage, it causes is usually temporary. But heart surgery can't fix the arteries in your brain. Researchers followed seniors with vascular disease for several years. They all showed cognitive decline over that time, whether or not they had surgery. Seniors with vascular disease all did worse than heart-healthy seniors.
So an anti-inflammatory diet full of choices that improve cholesterol and blood sugar isn't just good for your heart. It's good for your head, too.
- Nature Clinical Practice Neurology (2006) 2, 538-547 (doi:10.1038/ncpneuro0294) Vascular cognitive impairment Ola A Selnes and Harry V Vinters.
- Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 May;85(5):1571-8. Absence of cognitive decline one year after coronary bypass surgery: comparison to nonsurgical and healthy controls. Sweet JJ, Finnin E, Wolfe PL, Beaumont JL, Hahn E, Marymont J, Sanborn T, Rosengart TK.
- Ann Neurol. 2008 May;63(5):581-90. Cognition 6 years after surgical or medical therapy for coronary artery disease. Selnes OA, Grega MA, Bailey MM, Pham LD, Zeger SL, Baumgartner WA, McKhann GM.