NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People with more heart disease-related factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity may be more likely to develop brain changes that can lead to dementia, according to a recent study.
The researchers examined data from 9772 adults who underwent magnetic resonance imaging at least once and provided information about their overall health and medical records.
The study focused on a link between the structure of the brain and the so-called cardiovascular disease factors.
The researchers found that, with the exception of high cholesterol, all other risk factors – smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity – were associated with abnormal brain changes experienced by people with dementia.
The higher the risk of vascular disease, the worse the health of the brain, evidenced by the shrinkage of the volume and decline in the size of the gray matter (a tissue located on the surface of the brain and responsible for issuing orders to all organs of the body or called nervous signals ) and white matter (the deep parts of the brain and its function transfer the nerve signals to the rest of the body).
"There are some things that contribute to brain aging and cognitive functions that we can not change (like our genes)," said Simon Cox, who led the study group at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. "We can see this as a list of things we have some controls or so-called flexible risk factors."
"There are many other benefits that can be gained by improving cardiovascular health (improved diet, weight, exercise, blood sugar control, and smoking cessation," Cox said in an e-mail. which benefits also preserve the health of the brain. "
The strongest links between vascular factors and brain structure have arisen in areas of the brain known to be responsible for more complex thinking skills that deteriorate during the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Researchers say in the European Heart Journal that heart disease factors appear to affect brain health in middle age as well as in old age.