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Heart and Head

Stiffening of the aorta associated with brain health problems

22 February 2021

Heart and Head

We often talk about the emotional connection between head and heart, but there’s an important medical connection too. It’s been known for a while that stiffening of the aorta – the large artery that transports blood out of your heart – is linked to heart disease. But in recent years it’s become clear that there’s also a connection with neurological disorders such as dementia and declining brain function with age. To find out why, researchers have analysed brain scans like these from more than 700 people without any obvious signs of dementia. They discovered that people with more stiffening in their aorta were also likely to have signs of damage and worse blood flow in their brains. Finding ways to spot the early signs of aorta stiffening or prevent it from happening could be an important way to reduce the risk of brain problems as well as heart disease in later life.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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