Aspirin may slow down the loss of brain power in the elderly, says a new study from Sweden.
The study included approximately 681 women of which 601 were at high risk for heart disease and stroke. All participants in the study were between the ages of 70 and 92. The women took a mental ability test between 2000 and 2001 called the mini-mental state exam or MMSE. The women were followed for about 5 years at the end of which about 489 women took the MMSE again.
In the study, about 129 women were taking low doses of aspirin every day for five years while 94 were taking other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Researchers found that women taking a daily dose of aspirin had better mental ability over five years than women who were taking other medications for preventing strokes.
The results were consistent even after the researchers accounted for other factors like age, genetic factors and lifestyle. "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," said Dr. Silke Kern, from the University of Gothenburg, one of paper's authors.
Aspirin is not for everyone
Experts say that people must not start taking aspirin to ward of mental ability decline. In 2010, a study had reported that the use of aspirin increased the risk of cognitive decline in later years while the use of NSAIDs didn't have any such effect.
"I would not start taking aspirin because of this study needs to be tested in a larger number of patients before we can say that aspirin has a role in preventing cognitive decline in women or men," Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the integrated cardiovascular intervention program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, HealthDay reports.
Bhatt added that aspirin is not for everyone. "Aspirin can cause side effects and should not be taken by people who are at risk for ulcers or bleeding. Do not take aspirin without discussing it with your doctor, he said, reports HealthDay.