From cardiovascular wellness to brain health, up to the prevention of cognitive decline, the step is fast. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and controlling the risk factors of heart disease and heart attack also means protecting the brain by reducing the risk of stroke, but not only that: it also means reducing the chances of experiencing cognitive decline with advancing age . The experts from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association say that seven steps are enough. We talk about this with Dr. Simona Marcheselli, head of the Emergency Neurology and Stroke Unit at Humanitas hospital.
How to take action
In the Stroke scientific journal, experts have pointed out that heart attack and stroke share some of the same risk factors as cognitive decline. To maintain optimal brain health, and therefore good brain function with aging, it is good to follow seven tips. These were extrapolated from the Life’s Simple 7 program promoted by the American Heart Association to maximize cardiovascular well-being:
Check the arterial pressure keeping it at levels below 120/80 mm Hg;
Check the total cholesterol values avoiding to exceed the 200 mg/dL threshold;
Check fasting glucose levels, with values within 100 mg/dL;
Follow a healthy diet;
Lose excess weight and maintain a body mass index of less than 25 kg/m2;
Do physical activity according to the recommendations of the international guidelines.
In addition to these tips, the control of other risk factors ‘starting from atrial fibrillation which increases the risk of stroke is also important’, adds Dr. Marcheselli.
‘Observing these seven recommendations – adds the specialist – first of all can help prevent atherosclerosis, which is the degenerative process of blood vessels. With atherosclerosis, the lumen is reduced and therefore so is the flow of blood to both heart and brain. Atherosclerosis can cause transient ischemic attacks and strokes as well as myocardial infarction depending on the blood vessels affected by sclerotization’.
This way you also protect the health of the brain from the risk of cognitive decline because ‘it prevents the vascular dementia associated with atherosclerosis as long as possible. The important thing is to ensure good oxygenation to the brain while preserving the circulatory function’, concludes Dr. Marcheselli