Aspirin may slow the decline in mental capacity among elderly patients

A daily dose of acetylsalicylic acid equivalent to a fourth of an aspirin may slow the decline in intellectual capacity among elderly individuals with high cardiovascular risk. This is shown in a study by Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, over a five year period studied how intellectual capacity changes among 681 elderly women (70 to 92 years) with heightened risk of suffering from a heart attack, vascular spasm or stroke.

Of the 681 women, 129 received a low daily dose of acetylsalicylic acid, equivalent to a fourth of an aspirin, to prevent . The Gothenburg study shows that acetylsalicylic acid also slowed decline in brain capacity among the .

In the study, published in Open, the women underwent various tests to measure their and intellectual capacity, such as language and memory tests.

"At the end of the five year examination period mental capacity had declined among all the women and the portion that suffered from dementia was equally large in the entire group. However, the decline in brain capacity was significantly less and occurred at a slower pace among the women who received acetylsalicylic acid," says Silke Kern, researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.

The effect remained even when age, and use of anti-inflammatory drugs were taken into account.

In addition to preventing heart disease, acetylsalicylic acid has been shown to be effective against cancer according to several scientific studies. It is common practice in many countries to treat women at risk for heart disease with a small dose of acetylsalicylic acid – but not in Sweden.

Silke Kern emphasizes that the study is an observational study and that more research is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be made.

"Our results indicate that acetylsalicylic acid may protect the brain, at least among women at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. However, we do not know the long term effects of routine treatment. We certainly do not want to encourage the elderly to self-medicate with aspirin to avoid dementia," she states.

The research group in Gothenburg has now started a follow-up study that will follow the older women for an additional five years.

More information: The study Does low-dose acetylsalicylic acid prevent cognitive decline in women with high cardiovascular risk? A 5-year follow-up of a non-demented population-based cohort of Swedish elderly women was published in BJM Open on October 3, 2012. bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/5/e001288.long

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stress in middle age could contribute to late-life dementia

Aug 16, 2010

Psychological stress in middle age could lead to the development of dementia later in life, especially Alzheimer's disease, reveals research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Based on data from a study which followed ...

Study: Aspirin good for men and women

Jan 17, 2006

A Duke University study suggests aspirin significantly reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack or death due to cardiovascular disease in men and women.

Recommended for you

A new tool in drug overdose prevention

Oct 30, 2014

The Center for Disease Control reported earlier this month that the heroin overdose death rate across 28 states it surveyed doubled between 2010 and 2012. This sharp increase and the chilling statistics that say more than 11 ...

Nasal spray treats heroin overdose

Oct 28, 2014

"Every year, drug overdoses are responsible for roughly 1000 ambulance calls in Oslo," says Arne Skulberg, an anaesthesiologist, a PhD candidate at NTNU and the 2014 winner of Norway's Researcher Grand Prix ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.