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Researchers from the University of Oxford, in collaboration with researchers from Canada and the Universities of Bristol and London, have used advanced magnetic resonance imaging to investigate whether factors such as blood pressure, fitness, smoking and alcohol intake during young adult life are associated with changes in the blood vessels inside the brain.

The British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust funded study, which took place at the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, involved 125 young adults between the ages of 18 and 40 years.

Participants with healthier cardiovascular risk profiles, such as those with optimal blood pressure who are following the UK’s Chief Medical Officers’ public health guidelines for exercise participation and lower alcohol intake were found to have higher density of blood vessels in the brain as well as higher brain blood flow and fewer white matter hyperintensity lesions; which have been associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia in later life.

Find out more (University of Oxford website)

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