High cholesterol, a salty diet and obesity can increase your chances of having a stroke. But can these factors weaken your brain in another way?
If you're a diabetic smoker with high blood pressure, you're at serious risk for a stroke. But a new study finds this same criteria may also be helpful in predicting other cranial health issues.
Dr. Ed Manno of the Cleveland Clinic says, "If you had systolic hypertension or high blood pressure that was manifest by changes in the thickness of your heart, then you were at increased risk of having cognitive decline over this four-year period."
This mental decline includes memory loss and thinking problems as people get older.
Researchers followed nearly 24,000 people over four years, measuring stroke risks like age, blood pressure and smoking. They found more than 1,900 or eight percent of the subjects who had increased stroke risk developed cognitive problems as well.
The major risk factors were an increase in age and a thickening of the heart muscle due to long-term high blood pressure. Doctors say it's yet another reason to keep your blood pressure under control.
"You need to pay attention to those risk factors that are just not important for stroke, but they're also important for tentatively cognitive decline," says Dr. Manno. "The big one, at least in this study, is blood pressure."
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