In a new study, researchers found that using heart disease prevention strategies in mid-life may delay or stop the brain alterations that can lead to dementia later in life.
The research was reported by the American College of Cardiology.
Atherosclerosis, or buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on artery walls, is the underlying cause of most heart diseases, which is the leading cause of death around the world.
Dementia is also among the top causes of death and disability around the world, with 50 million people currently living with dementia.
The presence of atherosclerosis has been linked to cognitive impairment in advanced stages of the disease, but little is known about how they influence each other, especially since both can be asymptomatic for long periods of time earlier in life.
In the study, the team used PET scans of 547 participants to determine the association between brain metabolism, atherosclerosis and heart risk factors in middle-aged adults.
They found that heart risk is linked to brain hypo-metabolism, including the cerebral areas known to be affected by dementia.
High blood pressure was the modifiable heart r disease risk factor with the strongest association.
According to researchers, these results underscore the need to control heart disease risk factors early in life to potentially reduce the brain’s later vulnerability to cognitive dysfunction.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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