blood vessels that feed not only the heart, but the brain.
“The strongest data we have suggest that what’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Edelmayer adds.
As for education, researchers think that may help via what’s called the “cognitive reserve” hypothesis: People with more education may be better equipped to withstand the pathological brain changes seen in dementia, and maintain their memory and thinking abilities for a longer time.
The current findings are based on more than 378,000 U.S. adults who took part in an annual government health survey.
Overall, the researchers estimate, 37% of dementia cases nationally are linked to any of eight modifiable risk factors: midlife obesity, inactivity, lower educational attainment, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and hearing loss.
One reason, Barnes says, is sheer prevalence. Obesity has become much more common over the past decade, so it is contributing to more cases of dementia.
Meanwhile, she says, recent studies have suggested the link between low education levels and dementia is stronger than previously thought. So the researchers estimate that factor is contributing to more dementia cases among Americans.
But the relative importance of those factors among different groups of Americans does differ. Along with the differences seen among racial/ethnic groups, men and women showed some variance. Modifiable risk factors played a bigger role in