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(PROVO, Utah) -- If people try to get their hearts healthy through diet, exercise and staying smoke-free, they’ll lessen the risk of mental impairment as they age, Brigham Young University researchers say.
On the other hand, BYU lead investigator Evan Thacker says if people go down the other road and take up bad habits that hurt their heart, they can expect poorer learning, memory and verbal skills.
Based on a study of 17,800 Americans ages 45 and up, mental impairment developed in 4.6 percent of those with the worst cardiovascular health while deficits in mental processes in those with medium and the most healthy hearts were found in 2.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Thacker points out that mental impairment rates are higher not only in those with heart ailments but in low-income groups and people who live in the nation’s “stroke belt,” which are virtually all southern states.
One other finding: there seemed to be no direct link between strong hearts and the brain functioning better than normal.
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