Your 4-Step Plan to Lower Blood Pressure and Prevent Dementia
Matters of the head and the heart don’t have to be so complicated. A new study found that controlling blood pressure later in life protects both your cardiovascular system and your thinking and memory.
Researchers looked at a sample of more than 28,000 older adults in 20 different countries. When participants were treated for high blood pressure, they were also less likely to develop dementia.
Understanding the link
High blood pressure happens when your blood pushes against your arteries with too much force. This can damage your blood vessels, including those that bring oxygen to your brain.
Reducing your blood pressure, meanwhile, may help keep brain tissue nourished and healthier. And your body might have an easier time clearing harmful substances—including beta-amyloid, a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
Working toward better blood pressure
The good news: It’s never too late to start making changes that help your blood pressure. Healthy lifestyle habits can both prevent high blood pressure and bring high numbers down.
The better news: You don’t have to change everything at once. It’s OK to slowly build a healthier routine. For instance, take things one step at a time with this plan:
Schedule a check-in. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider for next month.
Focus on fitness. First, get a baseline for your exercise. Keep a log for 3 to 4 days to see how much you’re moving. The goal is to hit 150 minutes of activity per week. If you’re on track, great! If not, add a few more minutes of movement each day until you reach that total.
Dial in your diet. Add a fruit or vegetable to every meal. For instance, try fruit in your cereal, spinach on your sandwich, and chopped broccoli in your pasta.
Attend your appointment. If your blood pressure readings are high, make a plan with your healthcare provider to lower them. This might include blood pressure medicine, in addition to healthy habits, to protect your heart and brain for the long haul.