Aspirin a day can slow brain decline in women at risk of heart attack

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A study finds that aspirin a day can slow the brain decline in elderly women at high risk of cardiovascular disease. About 500 at risk women, in the a...

A study finds that aspirin a day can slow the brain decline in elderly women at high risk of cardiovascular disease.  

About 500 at risk women, in the age-group of   70 to 92, were tracked for five years and their mental capacity was tested at the start and at the end of the study.  

Those women who took aspirin for the entire period saw their test scores fall much less than those that had not. 

Dr. Silke Kern, one of the paper’s authors, said, “Unlike other countries, Sweden is unique, it  is not routine to treat women at high risk of heart disease and stroke with aspirin. This meant we had a good group for comparison.”

Women were tested using a mini mental state exam (MMSE).  This tests intellectual capacity and includes questions like,  what is today’s date? Where are we today?  It also included visual-spatial tests like drawing two interlinking pentagons.

 The report found that aspirin may slow changes in cognitive ability in women with high risk of heart attack or stroke.  It also made no difference to the rate at which the women developed dementia, which was also examined by a   neuropsychiatrist. 

Dr. Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said, “The results provide interesting insight into the importance of cardiovascular health on congnition, but we would urge people not to self-medicate with aspirin to try to stave off dementia.”    

Study also reports no advantage from aspirin on overall dementia rates in the group. The previous trials investigating the potential of drugs like aspirin for dementia have been negative.  “We don’t know the long-term risks of taking routine aspirin. For examples ulcers and serious bleeds may outweigh the benefits we have seen. More work is needed. We will be following up the women in this study again in five years,” 

Dr. Kern stated.  Aspirin also known as acetylsalicylic acid is a salicylate drug. It is used as analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an anti-inflammatory medication and an antipyretic to reduce fever. 


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