In the U.S., the average age for a first heart attack is age 65 for men and age 72 for women -- but the risk for heart-related disease starts building years earlier. One study suggests that the risk for serious heart problems starts with LDL levels as low as 100 in folks under age 40! And, another study recently found that your cardiovascular health, even as young as age 36, can predict your risk for premature brain aging.
That research published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity found that you end up with a brain age that's older than your actual years if you're hard on your cardiovascular system when you're young. And a prematurely older brain means you'll do worse on cognitive tests and experience increased brain shrinkage, a potential clinical marker of your risk of serious brain-related maladies.
Are you in your 20s, 30s or 40s and sedentary, overweight, contending with a hyped-up stress response and/or poor sleep? If worrying about your heart health isn't enough to get you to change your lifestyle habits, maybe the risk of losing your brain power will light a fire.
See your primary care physician to get your LDL, apolipoprotein B and triglyceride levels measured. (FYI: I recommend you aim for a reading of less than 70 mg/dL for both LDL and apolipoprotein B.) Then, make lifestyle adjustments in nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress, and take statins and coenzyme Q10, if recommended.
King Features Syndicate