Researchers at Boston University found that healthy people with sluggish hearts that pumped out less blood had “older” brains that could raise their risk of dementia.
The team looked at 1,500 people and observed that the brain shrinks as it ages, but a poor cardiac output ages the brain by nearly two years on average.
According to the researchers, the link was not only seen in elderly people with heart disease, but also found in younger people in their 30s who did not have cardiac problems.
Dr Angela Jefferson, who led the study, said: “The observation that nearly a third of the entire sample has low cardiac index and that lower cardiac index is related to smaller brain volume is concerning and requires further study.”
The participants with smaller brain volumes on MRI did not show obvious clinical signs of reduced brain function.
But the researchers said the shrinkage may be an early sign that something is wrong. More severe shrinkage or atrophy occurs with dementia.
Dr Jefferson said there were several theories for why reduced cardiac index — how much blood the heart pumps out relative to body size — might affect brain health.
For example, a lower volume of blood pumping from the heart might reduce flow to the brain, providing less oxygen and fewer nutrients needed for brain cells.
However, the researchers said more research is required to better understand the links between cardiovascular disease and brain structure and function.
“It is too early to dole out health advice based on this one finding but it does suggest that heart and brain health go hand in hand,” she said.
The study has been appeared in the journal Circulation.
So what do you do to keep your heart healthy? I think you already know what to do about that so just do more of it!