Calcium-clogged arteries are linked to heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes and now researchers are linking these unhealthy arteries to dementia in folks who reach their 80s and 90s.

Keep Arteries Calcium-Free to Reduce Dementia

Older Couple Walking

Calcium-clogged arteries are linked to heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes and now researchers are linking these unhealthy arteries to dementia in folks who reach their 80s and 90s. The University of Pittsburg researchers looked at data of 500 older adults, average age of 80. They were followed for 15 years, and assessed for dementia in each year of the study. The calcium levels in their heart arteries were also measured.

What are the risk factors for calcification in the arteries?

  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure that is unregulated
  • Physical inactivity

The researchers found that in those elderly folks with the highest measured calcium levels in their arteries, there were signs of dementia within five years of the start of the study.

Tips to reduced risk of calcium build-up in your arteries:

  • Enjoy a daily walk or other physical activity
  • Eat a mostly plant-based, wholesome diet with minimal processed foods
  • Keep blood cholesterol levels within a good range, as determined by your doctor
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure - uncontrolled blood pressure presents wear-and-tear on the artery walls, making them more susceptible to calcium build-up

We have an aging population in America, and it makes sense that as folks age into their 80s and 90s, many will develop dementia. Some researchers estimate that half will have dementia before they die if they live into the elder years. Getting a handle on those risk factors before calcification in the arteries begins is really important - beginning at least in the 40s and 50s.

Take a close look at your personal habits with exercise, good rest, healthy plant-based food choices, and keeping up with those yearly doctor appointments so that blood pressure and cholesterol can be assessed and treated, if necessary. Limiting calcium build-up in the arteries may be the ticket for keeping your mental faculties in tip-top shape as you age.

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.