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The Health Centre

Mind Your Health

 

Regular health checks help maintain a healthy brain


doctor's surgeryStrokes, heart disease, cardiac rhythm abnormalities and diabetes are all risk factors for dementia, so monitoring health to ensure that any problems are picked up and treated early makes good sense.


Having regular check-ups and following the medical advice of your doctor is important for your brain health. Regular blood pressure checks and control of elevated blood pressure are recommended throughout mid and later life.

 

Body weight

Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It is also a vascular dementia risk factor.

 

Blood pressure

High blood pressure in mid and later life can contribute to vascular dementia and treatment of high blood pressure in old age has been identified in several studies as reducing the risk of cognitive decline.


In one study of people with a high risk of stroke, the use of blood pressure-lowering drugs was associated with a 41 per cent reduction in the risk of cognitive decline over a two-year period.

 

Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol levels are also associated with an increased risk of vascular damage, leading to reduced blood supply to vital organs and therefore to heart or brain cell death.


In addition, there is evidence to suggest that excess cholesterol can contribute to the typical changes of Alzheimerís disease.


Cholesterol can be easily monitored with a simple blood test and high cholesterol can be treated with cholesterol-lowering agents known as statins. Statins have been shown to lower the risk of dementia, although the use of statins primarily for reducing the risk of dementia is not recommended.

 

Blood sugar levels

Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for vascular dementia. While there are genetic factors associated with diabetes, environmental factors such as obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute. Attention to diet and exercise can reduce the risk.

 

Suggested healthy rates

Blood pressure

Normal blood pressure might be anywhere in the range between 100/60 to 140/90. Ideally, normal blood pressure should fall about half way between these readings, with variations either way being age-related. Ask your doctor.

Cholesterol

The National Heart Foundation recommends that you aim for a total cholesterol reading of about 4 mmol/L, of which no more than 2.5 mmol/L is LDL cholesterol.


However, any lowering of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is beneficial, even if you donít reach the target levels.

 

Blood sugar levels

The normal range for blood sugar is about 3.5 to 8 mmol/l. Aim for less than 8 mmol/l most of the time. These are a guide only. Discuss the range you should aim for with your doctor or diabetes nurse.

 

Weight

Your healthy weight is measured by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is determined by your weight in kilograms divided by your (height in metres)2. A healthy BMI is between 20 and 25. A score below 20 indicates that you may be underweight; above 25 indicates that you may be overweight.


- Source: extract from Mind Your Mind, Alzheimer's Australia

 
 
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