Is Your Heart, or Smoking, Affecting Your Memory?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Mood & Memory
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

If you’re finding it difficult to recall names, or walk into a room only to forget what you came to get, you’re not alone. These “senior moments” are normal. But if you’re finding that your memory is declining quickly, and your attention and focus isn’t what it used to be, you may be able to blame it at least partly on your heart.

Researchers at the King’s College London just released new findings showing that high blood pressure, severe stroke risk factors, and smoking can impede cognitive function and memory. For their study, the researchers analyzed results from the Framingham study and English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA)—both of which looked at the effect heart and lifestyle risk factors have on aging.

They followed up with the participants after four years and again after eight years, giving the participants tests that measured their memory, executive functioning, and overall cognitive abilities.

What they found is that: 

  • Smoking had the largest impact on cognitive abilities.
  • A high body mass index (BMI) negatively affected memory-related tasks.
  • High blood pressure impaired cognitive performance and memory—but the decline was greater after eight years as opposed to four.
  • Elevated stroke risk factors affected memory, executive functioning, and overall cognitive abilities.

I suspect the reason is that all of these risk factors thicken the blood resulting in less oxygen reaching the brain. Earthing, taking omega-3 essential fatty acids (at least 1–2 grams per day), and taking nattokinase can help.

Plus, the good news is that all of these risk factors are preventable…

Now it’s your turn: Have you found that lowering your blood pressure, or stopping smoking, has improved your memory?

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