Maintaining a fit and healthy heart can slow the aging of the brain and thus prevent the onset of dementia, it is claimed.
More than 1,500 people were involved in a study by Boston University, which found that poor cardiac output aged the brain by nearly two years on average, according to the Circulation journal.
Importantly, this link was found in younger people who did not have heart disease, as well as older people who did.
Lead researcher Dr Angela Jefferson said that while it was too early to start giving out definitive health advice based on this data, it does seem to suggest that the heart and the brain go hand in hand.
"The observation that nearly a third of the entire sample has low cardiac index and that lower cardiac index is related to smaller brain volume is concerning and requires further study," she said.
Another recent study has shown that high blood pressure and diabetes in middle age can lead to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life.
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