Dementia is a disease of the brain. It’s the slow decline of the brain’s ability to remember and process complex tasks. When severe, cognitive impairment limits memory and language to a point where daily living tasks can no longer be performed.
Research has found that the heart has some influence over this. The aorta, the biggest artery in the human body, is found to be a buffer from the pulse of the heart as it sends blood up to the brain. This protects the small and intricate blood vessels of the brain. Damage to the blood vessels will reduce the oxygen and nutrients from reaching the vital parts of our white and grey matter.
For most of us the aorta functions beautifully through our lifetime. It has a fantastic elastic quality that swells about 15% with each heartbeat. In the cases where the blood vessels are damaged by plaque and other wear and tear, the aorta loses some of this elastic quality. The pulse from the heart then travels more directly to the brain and can cause slow damage to the small blood vessels. It makes sense that dementia affects the older population more than the younger. Our vital structures gradually wear and become less efficient over a lifetime. The more you invest in your health now, the more it pays off later in life.
So look after your heart. Eat unprocessed foods, rich in vitamins and fibre, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly. A few alcoholic drinks are ok, but remember that large amounts can cause necrotic damage to the heart tissue. Enjoy everything in moderation.
Look after your heart and look after your brain.
Sydney Alumni Magazine: issue 03 – semester one 2016. P.26