The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is hard to argue with when it comes to brain and heart health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes by keeping your heart healthy, you also lower your risk for brain problems such as stroke and dementia.
Here are some common sense steps from the CDC that can reduce your risk.
• Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Over time, high blood pressure puts too much stress on blood vessels. Scientists now know that having uncontrolled high blood pressure in midlife also raises your risk for dementia later in life. Know your numbers by getting your blood pressure checked regularly. If your blood pressure is high, work with your doctor, nurse, or health care team to manage it. One way to manage your blood pressure is to take your medicines as prescribed.
• Eat healthy foods and limit alcohol. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and include seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon) each week. Limit foods with added sugars and saturated fats, and lower your sodium (salt) intake. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and increase the risk of some kinds of heart disease.
• Get diabetes under control. Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can damage blood vessels and nerves. This damage raises the risk for heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
• Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and makes blood more likely to clot, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn how to quit.
• Stay active. Lack of physical activity can lead to high blood pressure and obesity. Most Americans don’t meet guidelines of getting at least 150 minutes of moderateintensity exercise each week. Find ways to get your heart pumping for at least 150 minutes per week. Take the stairs, schedule a walk at lunch, or do jumping jacks during commercial breaks.