Those earlier in life who closely followed the “Life’s Simple 7” guidelines from the American Heart Association, had brains in middle age that appeared more than a decade younger than those who didn’t follow the guidelines at all, confirmed lead researcher Michael Bancks. “We found that individuals who maintained better cardiovascular health in young adults had higher brain volume in later adulthood,” he added.
The Life’s Simple 7 guidelines promote heart health by urging people to maintain a healthy blood pressure, control cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar, engage in regular physical activity, eat better, lose weight, and either quit or avoid smoking.
Previous studies have shown that older people can reduce their risk of dementia by improving their heart health. But this is the first study to show that a young person’s lifestyle reverberates down the years in ways that can help or harm the brain, said Dr. Selva Baltan, a Cleveland Clinic neuroscientist.
“They think, ‘I’m young, therefore everything I do is OK,’ ” said Baltan, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It’s not OK. It has far-reaching effects on your life.”