Tag Archives: Improve memory

Could Hypertension Increase Dementia Risk in Women?

Ifhypertension, blood pressure, brain, memory, dementia you have high blood pressure, heart disease may be the health concern most on your mind. However, high blood pressure can be a risk factor for more than just heart conditions.  A recent study has found that women in their 40’s with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dementia.

What is high blood pressure?

A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher defines a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in between heart beats.

Hypertension occurs when there is some sort of damage or blockage that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels.  This narrowing slows the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues and organs in the body. Over time, this delayed oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to cells in the body that can lead to disease. Therefore, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of diabetes, kidney damage, stroke, and vision loss.

Hypertension and Dementia

A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at the medical records of about 5600 patients over 15 years to see who developed dementia.  Those women in their 40’s with hypertension had up to a 73-percent risk of developing dementia.  Although, the same was not true of women in their 30’s or of men in their 40’s.  However, further studies must be done to determine the reason for these results.

Previous studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia, but it was not clear if hypertension before the age of 50 was a risk factor for the condition. However, it is clear that the brain is a metabolically active organ that requires oxygen to function properly. Without oxygen, brain cells starve and become damaged causing disease and dysfunction.  In order to get enough oxygen, blood flow to the brain must be healthy. Therefore, anything that prevents or delays blood flow, such as hypertension, could lead to cell damage in the brain as is seen in dementia.

Hypertension Prevention

To lower your risk of diseases such as dementia, take the following steps to prevent or control hypertension.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.  Be sure to limit your intake of sugary and salty processed foods which can increase hypertension risk.
  • Stay active most days of the week.  Walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming are some ways you can stay active to keep your heart healthy. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week to help manage your weight and blood pressure.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  Over this limit, alcohol can raise blood pressure and can also make it difficult to manage a healthy weight.
  • Control weight since those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for hypertension than those of a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke since smoking can deprive your body of oxygen since it constricts blood vessels. In turn, smoking can increase risk of hypertension and related health issues.
  • Take all prescribed medications to help manage hypertension so that damage to the body’s cells can be limited.
  • Add in heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to your routine such as Presura by Vita Sciences. Presura contains a combination of hawthorn berry, niacin, and garlic extract to help support healthy blood pressure levels. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. It is important to make sure that any new supplements will not interact with your current prescribed medicines.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Changes You Can Make to Manage Blood Pressure”

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings”

Medline Plus (October 4, 2017) “High Blood Pressure in 40’s a Dementia Risk for Women?”

National Institute on Aging (March 1, 2015) “High Blood Pressure” 

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Could hypertension affect your brain health?

Do you check your blood pressure often? Do you know what your blood pressure numbers vegetables, nutrition, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart healthare?  If you are a young adult, it is very likely that these questions have not been at the forefront of your mind when it comes to your health. A recent study showed that in 2013-2014, only half of the 6.7 million young adults from 18 to 39 years old were treated for high blood pressure. Meanwhile, only 40-percent got their blood pressure under control.  However, blood pressure control is not only important for heart health, but for brain health as well. Recent studies have linked normal blood pressure levels with improved cognition in older adults.

What  is blood pressure and what is considered a healthy level?

The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 140/90.  The top number is the systolic pressure, or pressure at contraction. Furthermore, the bottom number is the diastolic pressure, or pressure in between beats. A normal blood pressure level is 120/80.

Risks of hypertension

You may think that hypertension is only related to heart health. However, a high blood pressure can increase risk of stroke, which affects the vessels in the brain. In addition, those with diabetes may have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, those with diabetes should be extra careful to keep track of their blood pressure numbers to make sure they are in a healthy zone.

In addition to heart-related conditions, hypertension can affect brain health. A recent study has found that older adults whose systolic blood pressure was above 150 mmHg had higher levels of mental decline than those below 120 mmHg.  This study looked at 1700 adults from 70-79 years old over a 10-year period. These individuals in the study were being treated for hypertension, but initially had no mental decline. Those highest numbers in mental decline were seen in African-American older adults. Such declines were linked to health conditions such as kidney disease, stroke, and heart health.

How to improve heart health

Besides medications, there are many ways you can work towards improving your heart health.

  • Limit processed food intake such as packaged and canned foods. Crackers, chips, canned soups, sauces, gravies, deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs, as well as frozen meals are all high in sodium. Stick to fresh foods whenever possible. Also, frozen fruits and veggies without added sauces and sugars are good choices for a heart-healthy diet.
  • Stay active often by engaging in moderate activity most days. Walking, biking, dancing, gardening, or swimming are some moderate activities to try. An activity is moderate if you can hold a conversation, but cannot sing while performing it. Stay active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for great heart health benefits.
  • Eat a fiber-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain breads.  Consume at least 2 cups of vegetables a day at meal times. Also, add in some low-glycemic fruits such as apples, oranges, and berries for snacks.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke, and don’t start if you don’t. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, which makes it hard for oxygen to flow to your body’s tissues and organs.  Quitting smoking is not easy, so visit Smokefree.gov on resources to help you quit.
  • Keep track of your heart health numbers. Your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose are all important numbers to check each year.  Check more often if you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease. Also, check your numbers at least every 6 months if you have a diagnosis of prediabetes, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Add a heart healthy supplement to your regimen such as Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains heart-healthy compounds such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic extract. These compounds have been found to support healthy blood pressure levels.  Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Plus (August 21, 2017) “Lower Blood Pressure Best for Seniors’ Minds” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167931.html

Medline Plus (August 28, 2017) “Young Adults may be ignoring high blood pressure” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168063.html

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (February 2017) “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke

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5 Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

Constantly forgetting important errands? Avert your midlife crisis by fixing some typical causes of memory loss that can happen to anybody under the age of 50. Stress, medication, and menopause are all examples of things that can lead to short-term memory loss, even if you’re not a candidate for age-related dementia.

Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

Memory loss in midlife- it happens.

The good news

“I’m too young for this!” you think as you wrack your brain trying to remember the password for your ATM card… or your son’s birthdate…or your own age (without doing the math). It seems like you’re always getting sidetracked, confused, or lost in a fog. You’re constantly forgetting words that are just on the tip of your tongue.

These are all typical symptoms of brain fatigue. Once you understand what’s causing it, the road to recovery is that much closer.

Here’s the good news: Most likely, it’s not dementia. Even if you’re getting along in years, brain loss from Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative illnesses are not a given, and don’t happen to all senior citizens.

Often, other factors such as vitamin deficiency, exhaustion, health problems or even daily medications can cause an endless cycle of brain fog, tiredness, forgetfulness, dizziness, and irritability that can make it difficult to function.

Causes of memory loss

The sooner you address these problems, the sooner you can start feeling more focused, energized, and relaxed.

Listed are some common causes of memory loss that can occur in middle age:

1) Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is necessary for healthy brain functioning. It’s one of the most beneficial nutrients for supporting your nervous system, red blood cell production, and proper metabolism.

Some of the earliest signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are all symptoms that occur in the brain:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Distractedness
  • Paranoia

If constant memory loss is interfering with your life, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to dramatically increase your uptake of high-quality vitamin B12 supplements. Most people find that even one week’s worth of B12 supplementation results in an immediate improvement in such symptoms that occur with B12 deficiency- especially chronic fatigue and memory loss. With time, cognitive impairments linked with low vitamin B12 will gradually disappear.

2) Stress

When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone. If you suffer from daily stress, then you’re making it round the clock. Too much cortisol in your blood supply is directly linked to memory problems, dizziness, and other signs of mental fatigue.

Stress is a common cause of memory loss for people who suffer from chronic depression. Again, this can be linked to excess cortisol.

Stress management, relaxation, exercise, and a healthy diet are all cited as effective ways to reduce stress and improve your memory.

3) Alcohol

Heavy drinkers may experience memory impairments and forgetfulness caused by Korsakoff’s syndrome. While under the influence, your brain simply isn’t “paying attention” to things that are happening around you. The more time spent drinking, the less memory you will have retained by midlife.

4) Prescription medications

Certain drugs and medical treatments can cause memory loss, brain fog, and confusion. If you’re currently taking a prescription drug that makes you feel forgetful or unfocused, then tell your doctor.

5) Menopause

Also known as “menofog,” memory loss during midlife is a common indicator of menopause. Hormone fluctuations, stress, mood changes and sleep problems can all make it difficult to concentrate, relax, or stick with your everyday routine. As a result, many women approaching their fifties wrongly think they’re going crazy or experiencing the first signs of dementia, when they’re really undergoing the beginnings of menopause.
To find out if menopause may be causing memory problems, speak to a doctor who specializes in women’s health.

What other causes of memory loss can you add to this discussion?

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Improve your Memory, Naturally!

Forgetfulness is annoying, and sometimes scary- especially when it happens daily. To improve your memory and sharpen your thinking skills, you sometimes have to nourish the brain with healthy nutrients, while also making certain lifestyle changes that benefit cognitive functioning. Here are some excellent natural-living tips that help to aid memory retention.

Improve your Memory, Naturally!

Alzheimer’s disease is often the first thing people worry about when they begin to notice themselves forgetting things often. The good news is that rarely is dementia the cause of memory loss in your 40’s, 50’s, or even your senior citizen years.

Sometimes, an underlying condition can be the contributing factor to slips in memory. Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, causes short-term memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental and physical ailments.

Do this to improve your memory!

Listed are some things to put on your to-do list for ultimate brain health.

Check your vitamin B12 levels.

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for memory, stamina, mood, and the relaxation response. When vitamin B12 is very low, you many feel continuously depressed, preoccupied, confused and fidgety.

To find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, ask your doctor for a blood screening to check vitamin B12 levels in the blood. You may need to up your vitamin B12 intake for several months or longer.

Vitamin B12- Because you just need Energy

Get plenty of sleep at night.

Studies show that practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial for your brain and memory. Alternatively, not getting enough good quality, refreshing sleep each night is a common cause of memory loss, anxiety, depression, and “brain fog.”

Check your thyroid!

A sluggish thyroid can trigger insomnia and depression, both of which lead to frequent slips in memory. If you’re often fatigued and forgetful, then ask your doctor for a blood test to check your thyroid gland functioning.

Visit a doctor.

Talk to your doctor about specific problems that you’re having with your memory. Some symptoms to include are feeling spaced out, fatigued, forgetting numbers or codes, missing appointments, forgetting names or words, or having difficulty just organizing your day.

Get regular exercise!

Studies have shown that including low-impact exercise into your daily routine is a great way to sharpen your mood, improve your memory, sleep better at night, maintain a healthy weight, and boost general happiness. Try walking for half an hour each day, or take on a new sport, such as biking or tennis.

Don’t do this- it will ruin your memory!

If you’re having difficulty paying attention, or you’ve found that you constantly forget something that you just reminded yourself about a second ago, then you may have to make certain changes to your routine lifestyle. Listed are some things to avoid when improving your memory.

Avoid certain drugs.

Don’t stop taking any prescription medications without speaking to your doctor, but do recognize side effects, such as memory loss, that can occur with certain medications.

Medications that can interfere with good memory and also cause confusion, poor concentration or other cognitive problems include:

  • Tranquilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Heartburn medications
  • Antihistamines

Don’t stress.

Make an effort to decrease the amount of stress in your life; not only does it make you unhappy, but it also makes it hard to focus on everyday tasks, as worries and anxieties take up too much mental space.  If you’re having trouble concentrating or remembering things because of stress, then talk to a friend…take a walk…read a book…or confront the stress head-on.

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Can you add any other great tips on how to improve your memory? Please share below!

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