The Longest Day 2018
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Be Heart Smart
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Remember, what’s good for your heart is good for your head

Some of the strongest evidence about maintaining your brain links brain health to heart health. Even though you can’t feel your brain working, it’s one of the most active organs in your body. Your heart pumps about 20 percent of your blood to your brain, where billions of cells use about 20 percent of the blood’s oxygen and fuel.

If your heart isn’t pumping well — or if your brain’s blood vessels are damaged — your brain cells have trouble getting all the food and oxygen they need. Any condition that damages your heart or blood vessels can affect your brain’s blood supply.

How you can take brain health to heart:

  • Adopt a long-term, heart-healthy “food lifestyle” rather than a short-term diet and eat in moderation. A long-term study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia.

  • Reduce your intake of fat and cholesterol.Studies have shown that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries and is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Use mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, for example. Try baking or grilling food instead of frying.

  • Exercise. Walking or other moderate exercise for 30 minutes each day gets the body moving and the heart pumping.

  • Don’t smoke.Smoking interferes with blood flow and oxygen to the brain and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

  • Manage your numbers. Controlling your body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
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Additional Web resources

  • More information about the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Body mass index (BMI) calculator
    From the National Institutes of Health, an online tool that calculates your body mass index (BMI), a number that expresses your weight in relation to your height. The tool also tells you where your BMI falls in the range from normal to obese.

  • Your Disease Risk
    Created by the Harvard School of Public Health and now hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, this Web site features interactive tools to help users calculate their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoporosis.

  • DASH eating plan
    From the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a 64-page booklet on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. DASH is a low-sodium, high-fiber, reduced fat plan with emphasis on fruits, vegetables and lean meat.

  • Heart-healthy recipes
    Also from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a page that links to heart-healthy recipes, including a booklet of African- American recipes and a bilingual cookbook of traditional Latino dishes.

  • Cholesterol guidelines
    Current National Institutes of Health guidelines on cholesterol levels.

  • Blood sugar guidelines
    Current information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.