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There’s a belief that one’s body can be trapped, but the mind can’t be. But depending on the context, this may be untrue.

One context where it is almost certainly false is when it comes to heart disease and dementia. Research is piling up to show that people who pile up heart-disease risk factors have far greater odds of developing dementia.

And now, according to a new study in Neurology, risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity boost the risk for memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia.

Researchers found that people with accelerated heart disease risk were three to six times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, three to four times more likely to develop vascular dementia, and about 1.4 times more likely to have memory decline than people with stable heart disease risk.

Heart disease risk factors wear away at your body over time, and their effects eventually become further pronounced. Getting a handle on them earlier is always the best way to go.

You’ve likely heard the formula for managing heart disease risk factors before: don’t smoke, reach or maintain a “normal” weight, increase activity, eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and limit alcohol consumption.

Your physical and mental health are inseparable. Heart-disease risk factors make it harder for oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to circulate throughout your body, including your brain.

When the brain doesn’t receive enough blood and nutrients, neural pathways can begin to close off, plaques can develop, and the risk for memory loss and disease goes up.

You can free your body from the perils of heart disease and your mind from the risk of dementia, at least in part, by doing your best to get more activity, eat a nutrient-rich diet that’s low in processed food, and take better care of overall health.

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