Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

By Caoimhe Baker Heart News   |   14th Mar 2022

High blood pressure leads to an increased risk of dementia and stroke. Follow our tips to reduce blood pressure and keep both your heart and brain healthy.

This week is International Brain Awareness Week, March 14th – 20th. Protect your brain health and reduce your risk of dementia.

Dementia is caused by diseases that damage the nerve cells in the brain and each year more than 11,000 people develop the disease across the country – that’s approximately 30 people every day according to the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign.

High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but did you know that it is also bad for your brain?

“Remember to have regular checks and to take your medication if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.” -Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation

“High blood pressure is a major risk for stroke, vascular dementia and heart disease and the only way to know you have high blood pressure is to have it checked."

- Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation

You can take some extra steps to improve your brain health:

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is key, engaging in at least 30 minutes of exercise five days per week, like a brisk walk or aerobic exercise can make a difference. Housework and gardening are counted when it comes to boosting brain health.

Balanced Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of food provides all the essential energy and nutrients you need to boost your brain health. A balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet, that is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, and fish, and that is low in salt and sugar, is a good starting point.

Regular Blood Pressure Checks

The first step to improving your blood pressure is to know it. High blood pressure is best managed by you and your doctor. Make a note now to have your blood pressure checked or simply call into your pharmacist today – it could save your life.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking may reduce your risk of developing dementia along with reducing the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. There are now many aids available to help you stop. Simply ask your family doctor, pharmacist, local HSE office or freephone the National Smokers’ Quitline 1800 201 203.

Keep up Social Interaction

Staying socially engaged is one of the easiest ways to keep your brain sharp. Just 10 minutes of social interaction can greatly improve your brain performance. Try calling family members or friends, or even better get your steps in and plan a walk and chat together.

 

If you or a loved one are worried about dementia, you can contact a dementia advisor at The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland on Freephone 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm). For more information on dementia and services in your county, visit www.understandtogether.ie.

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