WATERLOO (KWWL) -- New research suggests you may be able to protect your memory by taking care of your heart.
Rising blood pressure doesn't just raise a red flag for heart disease. Hypertension could also signal the possibility for early memory loss.
French researchers followed thousands of adults in their 50's for a decade. Those who had typical cardiovascular risk factors, like higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, were more likely to lose their memory earlier and at a faster rate.
The exact link is not clear, but cardiologists aren't surprised.
"It's probably an inflammation, an irritation of the lining of many of our arteries, the linings of our arteries to our head, to our hearts," said Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
He estimates high blood pressure, high cholesterol, even smoking and obesity may give the typical patient a 1 in 5 chance of developing dementia.
The problem is likely to grow with the aging baby boomer population.
Taking care of the body now may save the mind later.
Online reporter/News anchor: Tara Thomas