Stiff Arteries May Stifle Aging Mind
Study: Stiffer Arteries May Predict Decline in Mental Skills With Age
Nov. 20, 2007 -- How flexible are your arteries? It might make a difference
in how sharp your mind stays with age.
A new study links stiffer arteries to lower memory and concentration test
scores as adults age.
To make your arteries more flexible, go for a healthy lifestyle, suggest the
researchers. They included Shari Waldstein, PhD, of the University of Maryland
in Baltimore County.
Waldstein's team studied more than 1,700 Baltimore adults.
When the study started, participants were 57 years old, on average. They
didn't have dementia and hadn't had a stroke.
Participants got their arterial stiffness checked and took mental skills
tests. They repeated the mental skills tests at least once over the next 14
Those with stiffer arteries at the study's start showed greater cognitive
decline -- specifically, a bigger drop in memory and concentration test scores
-- than people with more flexible arteries.
Those findings held when the researchers considered other factors including
participants' age, sex, years of education, and heart problems.
But Waldstein and colleagues can't rule out the possibility that unmeasured
factors may have affected the results.
Still, they see no reason not to go for a healthy lifestyle, including
exercise (with your doctor's approval), to improve arterial flexibility.
Flexible arteries are also better for blood pressure.
The findings appear in the advance online edition of