Mind Your Health
checks help maintain a healthy brain
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.
Being overweight increases the risk of
heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It is also a vascular
dementia risk factor.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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,