Rheumatoid Arthritis is not just a joint problem. According to the National Arthritis Foundation, it can lead to heart disease, lung and eye problems, skin rashes and other health problems. It may also be associated with an increased risk of dementia. A review published in the journal Cureus last year found that people with RA increased their risk of developing dementia.
Although RA and dementia are partly due to genetic predisposition, there is another underlying cause they share. That’s inflammation. “The chronic inflammatory process of rheumatoid arthritis can affect inflammation in the brain due to hardening of the arteries,” explains Jonathan Greer, a rheumatoid arthritis specialist and clinical assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University. This can lead to a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can lead to vascular dementia.
Although RA may increase your risk of dementia, developing healthy habits can help your body and brain function at their best. “It turns out that a healthy lifestyle can help people a lot more than they think,” says Don Dexter, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin. “What’s good for your brain is good for your heart,” he adds.
The biggest risk factor for dementia is age. Aging cannot be prevented, but there are factors that can be controlled. American health media ‘EverydayHealth.com’ introduced 5 ways to improve brain health when you have RA. A healthy lifestyle is the best investment you can make for your brain, body and RA. With these habits, it is desirable to challenge them to maintain social ties and keep their mind sharp.
1. Eat healthy
The right nutrients support the smooth functioning of the body and brain. “I especially recommend a Mediterranean diet,” says rheumatologist Don Dexter. The advice is to stick to a diet that is low in protein, such as fish, which focuses on vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the Mediterranean diet has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
2. Be active
Research shows that regular physical activity helps keep blood flowing to the brain. 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week is recommended. If exercise is difficult due to joint pain, aqua aerobics can be an alternative.
3. Prioritize sleep
People tend to underestimate the importance of sleep. But getting enough and consistent sleep is important for your brain as well as your overall health.
4. Limit your alcohol intake
It is good for the brain to refrain from drinking alcohol or not to drink at all. “You can enjoy a glass of wine a day, but nothing more,” Dexter says.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking damages the lungs and narrows the arteries, affecting blood flow. According to a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in April 2019, smoking is associated with activities that stimulate RA. Smoking may also lead to a greater risk of dementia.
Reporter Lee Bo-hyun [email protected]
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