24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825

Wellness and Personal Development
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
A 3x10 Exercise Plan That'll Work for YouGood Lifestyle Choices Add Years to Your LifeTexting Smarts for Adults and KidsAmerica's 'Beautiful People' Are ChangingWhat Are Today's Americans Afraid Of?Be 'Mindful' of the HypeBumpier Skies Ahead, Thanks to Climate ChangeThe Benefits of 'Being in the Present'Moving Just 1 Hour a Week May Curb Depression RiskYour Sociability May Hinge on 'Love Hormone'Health Tip: Healthy Brain SuggestionsBody Gestures Aid ConversationSurvey: 9 of 10 Americans Take Cancer Prevention StepsEven a Little More Activity Could Save Millions of LivesWho's Likely to Fall for Fake News?Smoking, Poor Diet Lead Global Death CausesIt's Time to Kick Fido Out -- of Bed, That IsTake a Stand Against Sitting Too MuchDaydreaming Behind the WheelStrong Evidence for Healthy Lifestyle Reducing CRC RiskMany Moisturizers Aren't What They Claim to BeHealth Tip: Diet and Activity May Help Prevent CancerGetting Fit as a FamilyNeed Help Getting Organized?Too Much TV May Cost You Your MobilityPromoting Social Wellness in Your CommunityHobbies and Your HealthHealth Tip: Get Moving and Stay ActiveWellness Visits for Better Well-beingGet Ready, Safely, for the Great American EclipseTV Binge-Watching May Leave You Like 'The Walking Dead'Health Tip: Plan for a Heat WaveGivers Really Are Happier Than TakersHealth Tip: Think Smart During a Hot SpellHow Safe and Effective Is Your Sunscreen?For Drivers, Hands-free Can Still Be a HandfulIt's Never Too Soon to Safeguard Your BonesImpact of Video Games on Brain Varies With Game Type, Strategy'Loneliness Epidemic' Called a Major Public Health ThreatDoes Less Sleep Make You Less Healthy?Need to Calm Down? Try Talking to YourselfJust Thinking You're Less Active May Shorten Your LifeHealth Tip: Protect Your Skin at WorkGolfing and Gardening Your Way to FitnessTeaching an Old Brain New TricksCan't Get to the Gym? Work Out in Your Office!The Scoop on Avoiding 'Brain Freeze'How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?Healthy Heart in 20s, Better Brain in 40s?Health Tip: Getting Too Much Sun?
Links
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management

Healthy Heart in 20s, Better Brain in 40s?

HealthDay News
by By Dennis ThompsonHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jul 19th 2017

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, July 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Folks with heart-healthy habits in their 20s tend to have larger, healthier brains in their 40s -- brains that may be better prepared to withstand the ravages of aging, a new study reports.

Twentysomethings who closely followed the "Life's Simple 7" guidelines from the American Heart Association had brains in middle age that appeared more than a decade younger than those who didn't follow the guidelines at all, said lead researcher Michael Bancks. He's a postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"We found that individuals who maintained better cardiovascular health in young adulthood had higher brain volume in later adulthood," Bancks said.

Brain volume loss, or shrinkage, has been associated with the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, Bancks said.

The Life's Simple 7 guidelines promote heart health by urging people to maintain a healthy blood pressure, control cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar, engage in regular physical activity, eat better, lose weight, and either quit or avoid smoking.

Previous studies have shown that older people can reduce their risk of dementia by improving their heart health. But this is the first study to show that a young person's lifestyle reverberates down the years in ways that can help or harm the brain, said Dr. Selva Baltan, a Cleveland Clinic neuroscientist.

"They think, 'I'm young, therefore everything I do is OK,' " said Baltan, who wasn't involved in the study. "It's not OK. It has far-reaching effects on your life."

For this report, Bancks and his colleagues reviewed data on 518 people participating in a long-range heart health study.

The participants, now an average age of 51, had been followed for three decades. They have received follow-up exams every two to five years, and had brain scans 25 years after entering the study, the researchers said in background information.

The research team rated each participant based on how well they followed each of Life's Simple 7 at the start of the study. A person received scores between zero and 2 points for each recommendation, depending on how closely they followed it, with a maximum heart healthy score of 14.

Researchers then compared those scores against the brain scans performed in middle age, to see whether living healthy as a young adult mattered years later.

As it turned out, each 1-point improvement in a young person's heart-healthy lifestyle score was "essentially the same as one year less in brain aging," Bancks said. "As the score increases, you see a better result for brain structure."

However, not all the heart association's recommendations carried the same weight. Smoking had a stronger association with smaller brain volume than the other lifestyle factors, the researchers found.

The brain is highly dependent on a healthy heart and circulatory system to work right, so it makes sense that heart-healthy living would result in a healthier brain, Bancks said.

"The brain is supplied by this rich network of blood vessels, which provides the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood it needs to function normally," Bancks said. "A healthy heart helps ensure enough blood is pumped through these blood vessels, and healthy blood vessels help ensure that network is intact to supply the entire brain with nutrients and oxygen."

This doesn't mean that you should give up if you haven't paid attention to your heart health until your 40s, Baltan added.

"This isn't putting us in a hopeless situation," Baltan said. "It's another alert that we can start at an even earlier age to maintain our brain health."

The new study appears July 19 in Neurology.

More information

For more on Life's Simple 7, visit the American Heart Association.