There are a bunch of health-related numbers we regularly monitor.
You likely know your current weight, for example. You might have an idea of what your cholesterol levels are. And perhaps you track your blood sugar too.
Plus, many of us are practically obsessed with blood pressure. But there’s another number on the same little screen that might turn out to be even more critical.
This other number typically sits there in the corner, forgotten. Yet it could hold a significant clue about your future brain health.
In fact, if you start to keep an eye on it and act fast should you see it begin to jump, you could potentially avoid one of the diseases we all fear the most as we age.
Because new research finds a direct link between our often-ignored heart rate and the risk of dementia.
Study links elevated heart rate to dementia
Many home blood pressure meters also measure your pulse or heart rate. But if you don’t have a meter or yours doesn’t measure pulse, I’ll give you an easy way to figure it out in a minute.
You won’t need anything except two fingers and basic math. But, first, let’s take a quick look at why that number is so important.
The new study finds a consistently higher resting heart rate could be a warning sign that you’re potentially facing dementia down the road.
In general, you want to keep your heart rate under 70. According to the new study out of Sweden, if your pulse regularly jumps above 80, your odds of dementia climb by 55 percent compared to 70 and below.
Previous studies have made a similar link. One found that a pulse above 80 in middle age increased the odds of cognitive decline later on, for example.
But this new study didn’t look at middle-aged people. It looked at older folks who had no signs of dementia at the start of the study. That means this risk factor isn’t something to worry over. Just the opposite.
It represents a golden opportunity to spot the risk early. That way, you can act to bring your heart rate under control to help reduce your risk of ever developing dementia.
How to keep tabs on your pulse
Clearly, it’s essential to pay as much attention to your heart rate as your blood pressure.
If your pulse isn’t displayed on your blood pressure reader… and you don’t have a smartwatch or a Fitbit that tracks it… you can measure your heart rate manually instead.
- Place two fingers on your wrist or neck to feel your heartbeat.
- Set a timer for 15 seconds.
- Count the number of beats in that time.
- Multiply that number by four to get your pulse.
Be sure to check your heart rate when you’ve been resting, not right after any kind of activity. And take it several times just to check you measured it correctly.
If your pulse is above 80, there’s no need to panic. But you should look into why it’s rising.
Your elevated heart rate could be a red flag for conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, for example. So get yourself checked out by a doctor.
A consistently high heart rate can also go hand-in-hand with being sedentary or overweight. And if that’s true in your case, you know what you’ve got to do. Unseat the seat more often and work on shedding a few pounds.
Plus, don’t forget nothing can get your pulse pounding quite like stress. So if you’re wired a little hot like I am, you might want to work on some ways to cool back down.
I’ve got some tips to help with that right here.