Heart attacks and memory loss: a link we can’t ignore

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There’s fresh news out there that will make you sit up and think. Having a heart attack could make your brain slow down in the long run.

Not right after it happens, but years later.

That’s the finding of a new study from scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

What’s a Heart Attack?

When the heart, the engine of our body, doesn’t get enough blood, it’s a heart attack. Just like a car runs on gas, our heart runs on blood.

If the blood supply suddenly stops or goes down, the heart muscle can die from lack of oxygen. This scary situation is what we call a heart attack. It happens to more than 800,000 people in the United States every year.

What Does the Study Say?

The study was published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology. The scientists studied a big group of people from 1971 to 2019. They checked how well their brains were working, then kept track of who had heart attacks.

They found out that people who had a heart attack didn’t show any immediate changes in their thinking abilities.

However, over the years, their brains started to slow down faster compared to those who never had a heart attack. It was like their brains aged six to thirteen years faster.

The brainy researchers tested people’s memory and decision-making skills with a bunch of questions. These questions helped them figure out how well the people’s brains were working.

They noticed that people who had a heart attack did worse on these tests as time went by.

In total, the researchers looked at 30,465 people. All of these people were healthy in the brain department when the study started. They had never had a heart attack, stroke, or any kind of memory disease.

Most of the people they studied were women, and there were also many Black and Hispanic people. But out of this huge group, 1,033 people had a heart attack later on. Some even had two heart attacks. These people were usually older and men.

What Now?

The results of this study are a wake-up call. Heart attacks might hurt our brains, so it’s really important that we keep our hearts healthy.

This means watching out for things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These can make us more likely to have a heart attack.

“We have shown that preventing heart attacks may be one way to keep our brains healthy as we get older,” says Michelle Johansen, one of the researchers on the study. But she also says there’s more to learn.

“Now we need to figure out what exactly is causing the brain to slow down over time.”

If you care about heart health, please read studies about common heartburn drugs that may help treat COVID-19, and this therapy could cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by half.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about simple ways to reduce irregular heartbeat, and results showing drinking coffee this way can help prevent stroke, and heart disease.

The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

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