It's clear that psychological and social factors can affect heart health. The July issue of the Harvard Heart Letter explains that this is a two-way street: The health of your heart and blood vessels also affects your mind and brain.
older people, the most common causes of dementia (damage to the brain
that leads to memory loss, confusion, and changes in personality or
speech) are blood vessel problems and Alzheimer's disease. Research
suggests that cholesterol-clogged arteries, inflammation, and risk
factors for heart disease and stroke contribute to both, reports the Harvard Heart Letter.
blood flow in the brain may contribute to the cascade of events that
leads to the tangles and clumps of protein in the brain that
characterize Alzheimer's. Autopsies show that memory loss and changes
in thinking skills and personality are more likely to have occurred
when tangles and clumps are accompanied by signs of strokes and
narrowed, clogged blood vessels feeding the brain. In other words,
improving blood flow to the brain and working to prevent strokes may
maintain memory well into old age.
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