Cognitive function declines faster in people who have heart attacks than in those who don’t, new research shows, suggesting that preventing heart attacks could help preserve brain health.
The study is one of the first to look at how sudden cardiac events such as heart attacks affect brain function over the short and long term. The findings will be presented next week at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference. The research is considered preliminary until the full findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“For too long, we have thought about and addressed heart disease and brain disease as two separate conditions,” lead study author Dr. Michelle C. Johansen said in a news release. She is an assistant professor of cerebrovascular neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“We need to realize that what’s going on in the heart and brain are related. Managing risk factors to prevent a heart attack is actually good for your brain as well,” she said.