A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, highlighted that risk factors for developing heart disease are also linked to a decrease in brain function as well.
"Young adults may think the consequences of smoking or being overweight are years down the road, but they aren't," stated Dr. Hanneke Joosten, lead author of the study. "Most people know the negative effects of heart risk factors such as heart attack, stroke and renal impairment, but they do not realize it affects cognitive health. What's bad for the heart is also bad for the brain."
The research studied 3,778 participants ranging from 35 to 82 years old. The participants underwent cognitive function exams that measured the ability to reason, plan, and think critically. Additionally another test was given to gauge memory retention.
Dr. Joosten and company found that volunteers at the highest risk for heart attack preformed 50% worse on all cognitive tests compared to participants from the lower heart disease risk profiles. Compared to non smoker participants, smokers demonstrated significantly decreased cognitive and memory testing results.
"There clearly is a dose response among smokers, with heavy smokers having a lower cognitive function than light or non-smokers," Joosten commented. "It is likely that smoking cessation has a beneficial effect on cognitive function."
Both healthcare professionals and patients alike should be aware that not only do smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, and poor diet all lead to a greater risk of heart attack but also decrease cognitive ability.
Utilizing a heart attack support group, as well as consulting your healthcare specialist are the best ways to improve your health both mental and physical.