Blood Pressure Memory

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Monday, February 21, 2011 - 4:14pm

You may be able to protect your memory by taking care of your heart.

New research suggests you may be able to protect your memory by taking care of your heart. Rising blood pressure doesn't just raise a red flag for heart disease. Hypertension could also signal the possibility for early memory loss.

French researchers followed thousands of adults in their 50's for a decade. Those who had typical cardiovascular risk factors like higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels were more likely to lose their memory earlier and at a faster rate.

The exact link is not clear, but cardiologists aren't surprised.

Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic Cardiologist, says "it's probably an inflammation, an irritation of the lining of many of our arteries, the linings of our arteries to our head, to our hearts."

The Mayo Clinic's Dr. Stephen Kopecky estimates high blood pressure, high cholesterol even smoking and obesity may give the typical patient a 1 in 5 chance of developing dementia.

Dr. Kopecky says "that's not very high, it doesn't seem, but if it happens to you, it's 100% of you."

The problem is likely to grow with the aging baby boomer population.

Dr. Kopecky says "once you reach age 65, 95% of us meet criteria for high blood pressure."

Taking care of the body now may save the mind later.

Cardiologists say you can cut your risk for heart disease and memory loss with four lifestyle changes: don't smoke, stay at a healthy weight, exercise vigorously at least 3 times a week and eat at least 5 fruits or vegetables every day. Doctors estimate that just 3% of the population consistently adheres to that advice.

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