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Healthy heart

A healthy heart slows brain aging

Thursday, August 05, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: healthy heart, brain aging, health news

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(NaturalNews) A team of researchers from Boston University has determined that the healthier your heart is, the slower your brain ages. On the flip side, those with less-than-optimal heart health experience more rapid brain aging than those whose hearts have a more healthy blood flow.

The team evaluated 1,500 people for the study and found that, as the brain ages, it actually begins to shrink. When the heart is pumping blood at a healthy rate, the brain is able to keep "fit". But in people whose blood flow is restricted by poor cardiac function, their brains age roughly two years quicker on average.

Interestingly, it is not just old people with heart disease whose brains age quicker; otherwise healthy people in their 30s who have less-than-par blood flow to the heart experience more rapidly aging brains than those with healthy flow.

"These participants are not sick people. A very small number have heart disease. The observation that nearly a third of the entire sample has low cardiac index and that lower cardiac index is related to smaller brain volume is concerning and requires further study," explained Dr. Angela Jefferson, lead researcher of the study.

Researchers say it is unclear exactly why reduced blood flow to the heart leads to accelerated brain aging, but there is a definite connection between heart and brain health. A likely explanation for the connection is that less blood flow to the heart means less blood flow to the brain, resulting in less necessary oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain tissue.

The team says that further study is needed to determine whether or not shrinking brains leads to neuro-degeneration and dementia.

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