For people who are concerned about their health, few things are more important than the state of their heart. After all, heart attacks and cardiac disease are among the nation's leading killers, saddling millions each year with hospitalizations, medical bills and higher premiums for health and life insurance.
In fact, this week researchers reported in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association that good heart health also appears to slow down the aging of the brain.
According to the report, the amount of blood pumped from the heart in relation to a person's body size is associated with decreased brain volume as individuals age. A decreased brain size is one common part of the aging process, which means that heart health will not stop it, but can merely slow it.
"We observed cardiac index is related to structural changes in the brain but not cognitive changes," said researcher Angela Jefferson, PhD. "The structural changes may be early evidence that something is wrong."
This is just one of many reasons to maintain good heart health. Another reason is to avoid having to pay significantly more on medical bills and life insurance premiums over time.