Vascular disease can contribute to cognitive impairment

Lisa Wurth

July 25, 2011

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association recently reported that atherosclerosis may be linked to an increased risk of vascular cognitive impairment as well as a higher risk of heart disease. Athersclerosis occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, which can restrict blood flow to the brain.

"We have learned that cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease may work together to cause cognitive impairment and the mixed disorder may be the most common type of dementia in older persons," said Philip B. Gorelick, one of the lead researchers.

Mild cognitive impairment can affect memory, thought and judgment, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also increase the risk of developing dementia. A senior alert system can provide the added security for people who are experiencing cognitive difficulties or have been diagnosed with dementia. If an older adult is injured, a personal emergency response system can contact help.

The health organizations report that the same steps taken to reduce the risk of heart-related issues can also improve cognitive health. A healthy diet and regular exercise are important in preventing atherosclerosis and maintaining brain health.

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