We know there is a link between heart and brain health, but can your heart health predict your brain aging? Keep reading to find out.
Your “brain age” refers to structural changes that happen as your brain ages. Experts use MRI-based machine learning to predict a person’s brain age. Moreover, by subtracting your brain age from your chronological age, they can calculate your brain-predicted age difference (or brain-PAD).
By studying how our brain age relates to other physiological health measures, experts may have a better understanding of the aging process. In a new study appearing in The Lancet Healthy Longevity, researchers found a connection between brain-PAD, cardiovascular risk, and neurodegeneration.
Heart and Brain Health
According to the study, brain age may be significantly associated with higher cardiovascular risk, smaller brain volume, and poorer cognitive performance. In addition, they found that older brain age is associated with higher levels of neurofilament light protein (NfL), which are linked to neural damage.
They also found that brain-PAD was associated with future hippocampal atrophy, which is an early characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, the study shows no link between brain-PAD and several other biomarkers for Alzheimer’s. There was also no significant link between brain-PAD and education level, socioeconomic status, and childhood cognitive performance.
According to Dr. Aaron Wagen, a clinical research fellow at University College London and one of the study’s authors, oxygen may explain the connection between heart health and brain aging:
- “Any damage to the vascular system (e.g., heart, blood vessels) that impacts the level of oxygenated blood supplied to the brain will have a negative impact on brain health, potentially resulting in cerebral small vessel disease, white matter lesions, and brain atrophy. These brain changes can happen as part of normal aging. However, poor heart health could mean they happen earlier than expected.”
However, the study had some limitations, such as the participants being exclusively white and British. As a result, the study may not apply to other demographics. According to Dr. Lee A. Baugh, an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of South Dakota, who was not involved in the study, other limitations may be present.
For example, he explains that there is an increased likelihood of false positive results or findings that do not exist due to how some of the statistical analyses were performed. He further noted that in the future, the relationships should be examined with more “conservative statistical approaches.”
Minimizing Heart Risk
“Being physically active, managing existing medical conditions, eating healthy, learning how to manage stress effectively, keeping engaged in social networks and activities [are crucial],” says Baugh. “These are all things that we know can have a big impact on cardiovascular and brain health, essentially keeping the whole body as ‘young’ as possible.”
In addition, you can give your heart an extra boost by taking supplements like HeartBeet Complete. Its ingredients promote circulation, blood pressure health, energy levels, and more. Give your health the support it deserves by practicing healthy habits and taking HeartBeet Complete.