By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Loss of memory and thinking ability later in life isn’t something that happens overnight, but something that takes many years.

A study is showing even at mid-life, your health can influence what happens decades later.

If you want to keep your memory, take care of your blood pressure and cholesterol now.

“I’m always happy when there’s more data out there kind of reinforcing to people that you need to take care of yourself,” says AGH Neuropsychologist Carol Schramke, PhD.

A French study of nearly 5,000 people, average age 55, took three tests measuring reasoning, memory and language over 10 years. The researchers also made note of age, gender, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.

The more risk factors, the lower the thinking scores. And with lower thinking scores, the higher the risk of cardiovascular problems and a decline in thinking later in life.

The study is being presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting this week.

“My concern whenever I see these kinds of studies is that people will think, ‘Oh, it says high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I should take medicine, I should take an anti-hypertensive, I should take medicine for my cholesterol,’” worries Dr. Schramke.

KDKA’s Dr. Maria Simbra reports a more fitting prescription would be diet and exercise.

“So when you say, you just need to eat more vegetables, eat less meat, and exercise, ‘Oh no, no, no, that’s too simple. I want buy the $500 a month supplement,’ because if it costs more or is more complicated, sometimes we think it would work better. But that’s probably not true,” she says.

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