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Alzheimer's Disease: What we know 100 years after its discovery
By Andrea L. Zrimsek

Head-Heart Connection
Some of the strongest research links brain health to heart health. The brain is nourished by one of the body's richest networks of blood vessels. Every heartbeat pumps about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen your blood carries.

The risk of developing Alzheimer's or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Living an active lifestyle and eating a healthy diet can reduce your risks of both heart problems and brain problems.

Keeping your brain active can also contribute to prevention of Alzheimer's, though there are no guarantees. The one thing about Alzheimer's that is difficult for many to grasp is that it does not respect anyone. Much as a marathon runner in peak physical condition can die of a sudden heart attack, a healthy, active, mentally engaged adult can be stricken with Alzheimer's.

Sadly, DeKosky says, many people do not get to a doctor for an Alzheimer's evaluation because they don't want to receive the diagnosis. Yet that same patient would more often than not seek out an expert opinion if they were having chest pains or joint problems.

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