By: Dr. Kenneth McLeod, PhD.
In our weekly blog we like to keep our readers up to date on the latest circulation research. This past week, an important study out of the University of Texas appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This study established clear linkage between exercise, cognitive function ,and brain blood flow.
It has long been known that many different forms of exercise are able to reverse the symptoms of cognitive aging, such as difficulty planning, loss of concentration, and forgetfulness. What was unclear is how exercise was able to have these effects. The predominant thinking was that the brain activity necessary to control muscle motion somehow “rewires” the brain.
A research group at Texas Presbyterian Hospital has been investigating an alternative hypothesis, that exercise improves blood flow to the brain. In a previous study a University of Texas group had shown that following a one-year exercise program, individuals with early memory loss demonstrated a 50% improvement in some memory scores. Using brain imaging technology, they found increased blood flow to areas of the brain associated with memory function.
Brain imaging, however, is not a direct measure of brain blood flow, and so in this more recently reported work, brain blood flow was determined directly using measurements of blood flow in the carotid and vertebral arteries, the arteries which supply all of the blood to the brain. This was a one year long study, comparing brain blood flow in a group of individuals with memory loss, and who undertook aerobic exercise every day, to those who only undertook daily stretching type exercises.
The group observed that aerobic exercise does, in fact, lead to significant increases in blood flow to the brain. Dr. Binu, at the University of Texas, is quoted as saying “perhaps one day we can develop a drug or procedure that safely targets blood flow into the brain.”
Of course, we do know how to enhance blood flow to the brain of older individuals, it is only necessary to increase cardiac output, and you increase cardiac output by increasing venous return from the lower body. This is exactly why the HeartPartner was developed. By activating the soleus muscles in the lower legs, venous return to the heart is greatly enhanced, brain blood flow is increased, and cognitive aging slows or reverses.
It should come as no surprise that blood flow to the brain is critical, but for many years we believed that because brain blood flow was so important, the body always maintained adequate flow to the brain. These two studies out of Texas clearly show this is not the case, and it is important that we make sure that anyone who is starting to struggle with cognitive aging is provided with appropriate intervention to help them maintain adequate brain blood flow.
For further information, please visit our website: www.sonostics.com. We always enjoy hearing about your experiences with the HeartPartner, so consider sharing your story with us. Please also feel free to share this heath-tip on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media accounts and help us get this information out to the community.