The American Heart Association (AHA) released an advisory regarding the things people can do to keep the brain healthy. Here are the simple ways people can do to keep both the brain and the heart in optimal health.

Presidential Advisory

Americans are currently seeing a rise in dementia risks in recent years due to an aging population, as well as increased life expectancy. As such, last Thursday, Sept. 7, the AHA released a presidential advisory in the journal Stroke regarding brain health among adults.

In the advisory, the AHA states that people should not wait until symptoms of dementia or even stroke are already showing before beginning to engage in countermeasures. In fact, they believe that it is important to think about maintaining brain health as young adults and as children. Parents are even advised to think about such matters while a child is still in the womb.

'Life's Simple 7'

"Life's simple 7" are the seven factors which the AHA has previously recommended to improve heart health. These health factors and health-related behaviors are also seen as the seven simple ways people can do to improve brain health, and delay or avoid dementia. These are non-smoking, healthy body mass index (BMI), regular physical activity, healthy diet, and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

What's more, simple activities such as maintaining friendships, learning new musical instruments, and engaging in simple puzzles could keep the brain sharp and healthy. Although researches are sometimes confusing with regards to which activities are better in keeping dementia and cognitive decline at bay, there is no harm in trying to stay healthy, sharp, and alert.

Heart And Brain Health

In the past, experts did not relate heart health and brain health, but recent studies have shown a relationship between the two. For instance, although most cases of Alzheimer's disease are due to damages in the brain's nerve cells, vascular diseases may narrow or stiffen the blood vessels leading to the brain. Similarly, strokes could also lead to blockages in the blood flow to the brain.

"Ideal cardiovascular health equates to ideal brain health," said Philip Gorelick, M.D. of Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences, lead author of the study.

In fact, while the authors of the study define optimal brain health as having the optimal capacity to function adaptively in the areas of thinking, moving, and feeling, they also describe it in relation to favorable cardiovascular risk profiles.

As it stands, experts expect 75 million people will have dementia worldwide by the year 2030 as compared to the 47 million dementia patients today. In America alone, there were nearly 4 million cases of dementia in 2010. The report serves as a guide in moving forward toward encouraging improvements in brain and cardiovascular health.

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