What’s good for your heart is good for your brain, even later in life

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A French study published Aug. 21, 2018, in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the more steps you take to boost your heart health, the lower your risk for developing dementia. Researchers evaluated health and lifestyle data for more than 6,000 men free of dementia and heart disease men in their 70s to see how they were doing when it came to following seven steps recommended by the American Heart Association: not smoking; controlling weight; getting regular physical activity; eating a healthy diet (that included fish twice a week or more, and fruits and vegetables at least three times per day); and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Researchers also conducted psychological testing on participants at various times. After eight years, it appeared that men who followed five to seven of the healthy habits had the least risk (8%) for developing dementia during the study, compared with men who followed two or fewer habits (they had a 13% risk). The study was observational and doesn't prove that following heart-healthy habits will lower your dementia risk. But many other studies have made similar connections. The takeaway: It's not too late to try to prevent dementia.