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Brain or Bust: Outlining the 13 Factors for Brain Health

Lauren Gamble

Posted on March 19 2021


Experts have outlined 13 factors that are likely to contribute to cognitive health. Each of the factors identified is considered modifiable, meaning that a person has control over them and can therefore modify or make changes to behaviors in order to improve their own brain health. The American Heart Association (AHA) has outlined a guideline which manes 13 critical factors which affect maintenance of cognitive health and performance. 

IN 2017 the AHA released an original guide called “Life’s Simple 7” outlining the seven factors to beware for cardiovascular health. This guide has been extended as a list to benefit the brain as well: 

Seven key factors of cardiovascular and brain health:

  1. Blood pressure
  2. Cholesterol
  3. Blood sugar
  4. Level of exercise
  5. Diet
  6. Body weight
  7. Smoking status

Building upon the Life’s Simple 7, the AHA has added some additional areas of interest to their guidelines. The following factors have been shown to influence cognitive ability over time:

  1. Depression
  2. Social isolation
  3. Alcohol use 
  4. Sleep disorders
  5. Insufficient education
  6. Hearing loss


Research has linked depression to dementia and both isolation and loneliness have been proven factors in cognitive decline. Alcohol use can cause neurotoxicity and neuroinflammation leading to damaged brain cells. Studies have shown the importance of getting adequate sleep and that insomnia can contribute to dementia.

Interestingly, another study showed age-related hearing loss was associated with both cognitive difficulties and dementia. Additionally, researchers have also found a link between higher education level and increased cognitive preservation. 



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