Aging affects all parts of the body, including the brain. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that middle-aged adults who are at risk for heart disease have a higher chance of developing dementia a little later in life.

Keeping your brain in tip-top shape

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Aging affects all parts of the body, including the brain. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that middle-aged adults who are at risk for heart disease have a higher chance of developing dementia a little later in life. Risk factors for heart disease appear to be the same risk factors for dementia. This makes sense that risks that might affect circulation in the heart would impact the brain also.

This particular study involved 15,700 adults. Those in their middle years of life and with certain risk factors had a greater chance of developing dementia later on. The risks included

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure, not in control
  • Borderline high blood pressure
  • Diabetes

The highest risk for dementia was being at middle-age AND having diabetes.

This study did not show cause-and-effect for dementia later in life but it certainly did indicate a relationship between being in the middle years of life with certain risk factors, and developing dementia. Yes, there may be a genetic component to dementia and Alzheimer’s BUT all other risk factors are lifestyle driven and under your control. So, to reduce your risk for developing dementia:

  • Keep up with doctor appointments.
  • Have your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol regularly checked rather than waiting for some health event to scare you into action.
  • If you do have diabetes or high blood pressure, keep all of your numbers well controlled either with diet, exercise and /or medications. Enjoy a daily walk or other form of exercise. And overall make good food choices for meals prepared at home most of the time.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.