Key Metrics for Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults: AHA/ASA Guidance

brain scan MRI
brain scan MRI
The American Heart and American Stroke Associations have developed an outline focused on the impact of cognitive impairment on public health, and the maintenance and definition of optimal brain health.

Stroke prevention, lifelong social interaction, smoking cessation, physical activity, and early cardiovascular intervention are some of the various factors that may optimize brain function and reduce the risk for Alzheimer disease (AD) and dementia, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association’s (ASA) presidential advisory statement published in Heart.

The statement provides a review of recent literature that reports specific metrics that may define optimal brain health for adults. In this review, investigators discovered 7 consistent factors that define optimal brain health in the aging patient population. These metrics include physical activity, nutrition, body mass index <25 kg/m2, total untreated cholesterol <200 mg/dL, fasting blood glucose of <100 mg/dL, and an untreated blood pressure of <120/<80 mm Hg.

In addition, investigators suggest that primordial prevention of stroke, social engagement, lifelong learning, and smoking cessation may reduce the risk for AD and dementia. The maintenance of optimal brain health, according to researchers, is a team effort that depends on actions taken by the patient, health care providers, policy makers, and even individuals in the private sector.

Investigators suggest that the defining of optimal brain health may involve more complex factors that were not included in this report. Psychosocial, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors may all play a role in brain optimization and AD/dementia risk.

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“AHA’s Strategic Impact Goal [is] to improve cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% and to reduce deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20% by the year 2020.”


Gorelick PB, Furie KL, Iadecola C, et al. Defining optimal brain health in adults: a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2017;48(10):e284-e303.