Dr Michelle Ploughman, Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity, and Brain Recovery says it’s the first time they’ve made the connection between the heart, brain and the mind through the vascular system.
She says the health care system is set up to manage each individual condition. We have cardiologists for heart issues, endocrinologists for diabetes and neurologists for strokes, but she says all have the same underlying risk factors including high blood pressure, inactivity, and obesity. Dr. Ploughman says if you have a stroke you have a higher incidence of cognitive impairment, if you have heart disease your risk of dementia is greater.
Tash Pinsent is a 42-year-old heart attack survivor. Her heart disease presented as pain in her collarbone for many months, getting to the point where she couldn’t even take her dog for a walk.
She says it was 2:00 a.m. and she was walking over the stairs and felt a pinching sensation in her heart. That’s when she felt an unusual sensation in the back of her throat and decided to take the symptoms seriously. It was in the hospital that night she learned she had a 90 per cent blockage.
Dr. Ploughman says Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need to be aware of those connections between cognitive risks and cardiovascular health and be aware of the serious health statistics surrounding this province.
A quarter of all adults in Newfoundland and Labrador have high blood pressure, 22 per cent smoke, 52 per cent are inactive and 68 per cent are overweight or obese. She says people need to take those risk factors seriously and “chip away” at them in order to live up to the vision they have of their senior years.