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Most 20-somethings are not overly concerned about their heart health, blood pressure or cholesterol.
But new research warns those middle-age concerns could be vital to protect their brains from shrinking decades later.
Neuroscientists - People - Decades - Brains - Hearts
Neuroscientists tracked more than 500 people for three decades, monitoring their brains and their hearts.
They found young people who followed a low-cholesterol diet, exercised multiple times a week, quit smoking and cut out sugar had less brain shrinkage in their 40s.
'We - People - Steps - Hearts - Study
'We know that when people take certain steps like exercising and eating well, they have healthier hearts,' said study author Dr Michael Bancks of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
'The American Heart Association created seven simple steps everyone can take to improve heart health called Life's Simple 7 and recent research has shown that people who score higher on that assessment also score higher on thinking tests.
Heart - Factors - Make-up - Brain - Well
'We wanted to see if maintaining a healthy heart, as defined by these seven factors, affected the physical make-up of the brain as well.'
The American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 includes the following factors: maintaining a healthy blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, being active, eating better, losing weight and stopping smoking.
Study - Researchers - Data - People - Age
For the study, researchers looked at data on 518 people with an average age of 51 who had been followed for 30 years.
Participants were initially screened for height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and interviewed about diet and exercise.
Exams - Years - Brain - Scans - Years
They then received follow-up exams every two to five years and also had brain scans 25 years after starting the study.
Researchers scored each participant on how well they followed each of the seven steps to heart health at the start of the study and then at year 25, giving...
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