The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) recently compiled their joint guidance that outlines 7 factors to be implemented in maintaining optimal brain health in adults.

The joint advisory board notes that a healthy lifestyle benefits the brain as much as the body. Both the brain and the heart need adequate blood flow but atherosclerosis – narrowing and blocking of the arteries—can occur with aging and is the root of heart attacks and strokes. The 7 metrics to optimal brain health that were defined by these groups were:

  • Nonsmoking status
  • Regular physical activity
  • Body-mass index below 25
  • Healthy diet (e.g., DASH or Mediterranean diet)
  • Untreated blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg
  • Untreated total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
  • Fasting blood glucose below 100 mg/dL

As Chair of this collaborative writing group, Philip Gorelick, MD, noted, “Research … convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis, are also major contributors to late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. By following seven simple steps not only can we prevent heart attack and stroke, we may also be able to prevent cognitive impairment.”

The advisory also urges clinicians to follow AHA and ASA guidelines for preventing, diagnosing, and treating cardiovascular disease and stroke. Additionally, clinicians should administer brief cognitive screens to their patients as appropriate.

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