*Disclaimer* This post should not be considered medical advice or a basis for medical diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor if you are worried about your health.
Edgy Labs explores how dementia may be linked to heart disease and other vascular risks.
Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) which partially funded the study, commented that “with an aging population, dementia is becoming a greater health concern.”
But, a recent study shows why dementia might be a preventable condition.
Can we Prevent Dementia?
According to a prospective cohort of Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, middle-aged Americans with vascular risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking had a greater chance of suffering from dementia later in life, reported researcher Rebecca Gottesman, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues in JAMA Neurology.
Several preventable and non-preventable factors contribute to cardiovascular risk factors.
Of course, genetic predisposition also plays a role. This separate study goes into technical detail about how the ability to lower cholesterol depends heavily on one’s genes compared to medication.
However, certain midlife dietary and lifestyle changes help reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease (and possibly dementia) later in life.
How can you lower your risk of midlife vascular risk factors and therefore, possible dementia onset?
1. Be More Active
“The increasing urbanization and mechanization of the world has reduced our levels of physical activity”, says the World Health Organization. In fact, they believe more than 60% of the global population is “not sufficiently active”.
Moreover, “physical activity is known to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes” – another disease that weakens the cardiovascular system.
2. Quit Smoking–Seriously!
“People still do not link smoking to heart disease. For example, only 4% of Chinese know that smoking causes heart disease. In the USA, the majority of smokers do not believe they have a greater risk of heart disease than non-smokers,” says the WHO. Still, they estimate “smoking increases the risk of death from undiagnosed coronary heart disease by 300%”.
Chewing tobacco, snuff, and (yes) vaping with nicotine juice are all highly dangerous. That’s because, “Nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco, accelerates the heart rate and raises blood pressure,” says the WHO.
3. Drop the fad Diet
Whatever you may have done to lose or gain weight aside – make sure what you do today is create a meal plan for yourself that’s low in saturated fats, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, for yourself and your family. If you’ve struggled with binge-eating, I personally suggest throwing out the Western diet altogether and avoiding processed foods/alcohol. In addition, be sure to limit how many animal products you consume. The WHO states: “the human body makes cholesterol and we also consume it when we eat animals and animal-derived food like milk and cheese”.
4. Give Your Brain a Break
The World Health Organization rates vascular hypertension as one of the most important causes of premature death worldwide and the problem is growing. In 2025 it is estimated there will be 1.56 billion adults living with resting blood pressures over either side of 140/90.
Aside from the other suggestions listed above, one of the best ways to reduce our blood pressure is to dedicate time to transcendental meditation (TM) – a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness. Schneider, dean of the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa notes that “in the past 30 years, approximately 600 studies have been conducted worldwide on the effects of transcendental meditation on blood pressure”. “TM is a simple mind-body technique that allows you to gain a unique state of restful awareness or alertness,” says Schneider.