Heart, brain health are connected; Good cardiovascular health leads to good cognitive health


Did you know your brain health and heart health are linked? According to the American Heart Association News, by keeping your heart healthy, you lower your risks for things such as a stroke or dementia.

     Your lifestyle behaviors that boost cardiovascular health also contribute to good cognitive health. “If the heart isn’t pumping strongly or the blood vessels leading to or in the brain are not working right, the brain won’t get enough of the food and energy it needs to function,” explained Dr. David B. Wheeler, stroke center medical director at Wyoming Medical center and founder of Wyoming Neurologic Associates. 

     Jacquelyn Williams says that it is absolutely important to keep your heart healthy in order to keep your brain healthy, “that is one of the core concepts of my teaching,” she says, “a happy body equals a happy life.”

     Williams explains how this works, “exercise allows your body to release ‘feel-good’ hormones that help not only with physical health, but mental health as well.”

    As the brain becomes less efficient with aging, it’s important to maintain good heart health to help the brain function in later years, according to Wheeler. Another recent study proves this point saying that cardiovascular health in childhood may impact cognition in adulthood.

     Mental illnesses such as strokes and dementia are some of the most serious risks of poor brain and heart health. This is because when we get older, we tend to stop exercising as much, causing poor heart health and ultimately poor brain health.

     “Exercise is extremely important to maintaining good brain health,” Wheeler explains, “a little bit of exercise goes a long way.” While exercise is the best way to improve both heart and brain health, not smoking is another factor.

     According to Wheeler, quitting smoking will do as much for lowering the risk of strokes and dementia as almost all other medical interventions combined. He also added that smoking is by far one of the most significant contributions to cerebrovascular disease. 

     Three out of five Americans develop a brain disease, however, we can change this by eating healthy and exercising as well as encouraging the youth to not smoke or vape, Wheeler says.

     “We are never too young or too old to make healthy lifestyle choices,” says Angela Jefferson, a professor of neurology and director of Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center in Nashville, “emerging evidence suggests vascular risk factors in mid-life may have important implications for cognitive decline in late life.