New Research Highlights the Connection Between Brain and Heart Health, Encouraging People to Get Fit

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Northern California Medical Associate’s Cardiovascular Services discusses the latest research on heart health and offers some pointers for patients interested in improving both heart and brain function.

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Studies like this help to underscore the importance of taking an active approach to heart health.

The Journal of the American Heart Association just released research indicating that a healthy heart may have major benefits for preventing the decline in brain function often associated with aging. Findings indicate that people who work to maintain optimal cardiovascular health have better brain processing speed and less cognitive decline over time. The study followed 1,033 participants with an average age of 72, for about six years.

To facilitate the study researchers adopted the American Heart Association's "Life's Simple Seven®" definition of cardiovascular health. These guidelines include tips for maintaining optimal heart health and include recommendations for tobacco avoidance, ideal levels of weight, physical activity, healthy diet, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.

"We have long understood that regular physical activity combined with avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and maintaining a healthy diet helps to reduce risk of strokes and heart attacks,” says NCMA Cardiologist Dr. Allan Garfield. “Studies like this help to underscore the importance of taking an active approach to heart health. If adopting a regime as recommended by the AHA helps to improve heart heath as well as brain health over the long haul, that’s a win-win for our patients.”

Heart Health is a Serious Concern

According to the AHA cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. More than 17.3 million deaths are attributed to the disease annually, and more than 800,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2013 alone (the most recent data available).

Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a trend that is wide spread among the population. According to the statistics, a full half of all Americans fail to get enough exercise, much less the recommended 150 minutes/week of vigorous to moderate physical activity. “This number might look challenging at first, but when you break it down to a daily routine, we’re talking just over 20 minutes per day – a number most everyone is capable of achieving,” Dr. Garfield pointed out. The AMA also recommends incorporating weekly strengthening activities, at least twice a week.

Increasing Activity Levels has Many Benefits

Adopting a more active lifestyle can have a very positive impact on a person’s health, regardless of age or if they suffer from chronic illness. Even people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes who pursue a more active lifestyle are much less likely to die prematurely than their inactive counterparts. Studies have proven that as people become more active, health benefits go well beyond just heart health. Physical fitness is known to reduces the risk of many diseases associated with aging including;

  •     bone loss high blood pressure
  •     stroke
  •     breast cancer
  •     diabetes
  •     arthritis
  •     cancer
  •     depression
  •     anxiety

Ultimately, fitness is a factor for people of all ages and this research pointing out that heart health may also impact cognitive, or brain function helps to drive home the importance of taking an active approach to managing heart health, for patients and physicians alike.

About NCMA Cardiology Services
From cardiac catheterization to open-heart surgery, from electrophysiology to rehabilitation and prevention, the NCMA’s Cardiovascular Services team is dedicated to delivering the highest quality care and the best patient results. The professional staff not only maintains its commitment to patients’ health and well-being but maintains a tradition of excellence and expertise in the practice of the most current, innovative treatments in cardiovascular medicine. For more information, visit the NCMA website and to make an appointment call 707-573-6166.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160316194211.htm

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John Beilharz
@NCMAHealth
since: 01/2013
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Northern California Medical Associates
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