Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
Baby Aspirin May Slow Brain Power Decline in Elderly
Women with Heart Disease Risk
Older women in Swedish study were at high risk of
heart disease and stroke
8, 2012 – Elderly women may be able to slow the decline in their brain
power with a daily low dose aspirin, at least if they are at high risk
of heart disease and stroke, according to a new observational study
reported online in
The researchers based their findings on 681 women
between the ages of 70 and 92, 601 of whom were at high risk of heart
disease and stroke, defined as a 10% or greater risk on a validated risk
All the women were subjected to a battery of tests
to measure their physical health and intellectual capacity, including
verbal fluency and memory speed, and dementia (mini mental state exam,
or MMSE for short) in 2000-2001.
Their health was tracked over a period of five
years, at the end of which the intellectual capacity of 489 women was
Some 129 women were taking low dose aspirin (75 to
160 mg) every day to ward off a heart attack or stroke when the
monitoring period started. An additional 94 were taking various other
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The MMSE score fell, on average, across the whole
group at the end of the five years, but this decline was considerably
less in the 66 women who had taken aspirin every day over the entire
This held true even after taking account of age,
genetic factors, the use of other NSAIDs, and the cardiovascular risk
The researchers then divided the subjects into the
● those who had taken aspirin for the entire five years (66
● those who had stopped taking it by 2005-2006 (18 patients);
● those who were taking it by 2005-2006 (67); and
● those who hadn’t taken the drug at any point (338).
Compared with women who had not taken aspirin at
all, those who had done so for all five years, increased their MMSE
score, while those who had taken aspirin at some point, registered only
insignificant falls in MMSE score.
The test results for verbal fluency and memory
speed indicated similar patterns, although the findings were not
There were no differences, however, in the rate at
which the women developed dementia.
The researchers then looked only at the women with
a Framingham risk score of more than 10%. Again, similar patterns were
The fall in MMSE score was less among those taking
aspirin than those who weren’t, and there was no difference between
those taking other NSAIDs and those who weren’t. The same was true of
the verbal and memory tests, although the differences were not
The authors caution that this was an observational
study, and that the MMSE can’t detect subtle changes in cognitive
ability. But they suggest their findings indicate that aspirin may
protect the brain - at least in women at high risk of a heart attack or
Inflammation has a role in heart disease and may
also be implicated in the aging or the brain.
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