MONDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- What's good for the heart is probably also good for the brain, suggests new research.
People with the highest cardiac output for their body size (cardiac index), meaning those with the greatest blood flow from their heart, tended to have more brain volume, which generally indicates a healthier brain.
In fact, the researchers said that people with the lowest cardiac output showed nearly two more years of brain aging than did those with the highest cardiac output.
What's more, this connection held true even in people who had no known heart disease.
"Those with the lowest cardiac index and the middle group both had smaller brain volumes than those with the highest cardiac index," said the study's lead author, Angela Jefferson, an associate professor of neurology at the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Boston University School of Medicine.
"Our results definitely suggest that cardiac health is related to brain health," she noted.
Results of the study are published in the Aug. 2 online edition of Circulation.
The health of the heart and circulatory system are increasingly being linked to the health of the brain. Poor heart health has been linked to neuropsychological impairments and dementia, according to background information in the study. But, less is known about the brain health of people who don't already have heart problems.
The current study included more than 1,500 people who had participated in the Framingham Offspring Study. Their average age was 61 years, and 54 percent of the study volunteers were women. Anyone with significant cardiovascular problems was excluded from the study.
Ten percent of the study participants were smokers, 9 percent had diabetes and 28 percent had high blood pressure, according to the report.
All of the study volunteers had MRI scans taken of their heart and
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