Adults who take steps to manage cardiovascular risk factors improve the odds that they’ll remain cognitively sharp – no matter their age.

That’s according to a detailed new report from The Global Council on Brain Health, a working group of scientists, healthcare professionals and policy experts founded by the AARP. Healthy lifestyle changes are not easy to make, the authors write, and clinicians need to assist and support their patients in their attempts. 

“We have something in our back pocket we can do something about,” said geriatric psychiatrist Kristine Yaffe of University of California, San Francisco. “Increasingly, what we understand is that cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors are probably our best strategy to reduce dementia at this point.” 

Among the report’s top recommendations for adults of any age:

  • Lead a physically active life.
  • Maintain a healthy weight with good nutrition and exercise.
  • Don’t start smoking, and if you do smoke, quit. 
  • Check your blood pressure regularly. If it’s too high, work with a health professional to lower it safely.
  • Have your cholesterol and lipid profile checked regularly. If it’s too high, take steps to reduce it.
  • If you have diabetes or prediabetes, consult with a health care provider and nutritionist in order to help you manage these conditions.
  • Even after starting medication or lifestyle change, continue to regularly monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight.

The full report and detailed recommendations are available through the AARP website.