FRIDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The same low-dose baby aspirin millions take to stave off heart attacks and strokes may also help put the brakes on age-related mental decline, a new study suggests.
The study included close to 700 Swedish women aged 70 to 92, most of whom had heart disease. Those who took low-dose aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack showed a less pronounced slide in mental functioning after five years than their counterparts who did not take aspirin.
At the end of the study, tests of memory, verbal fluency and other mental capabilities showed some loss of brain power, but the decline was significantly less and occurred at a slower pace among the women who received aspirin continuously or even for a period of time compared to those who never took it. The 66 women who took the drug for all five years even saw some of their scores improve, the researchers said.
Low-dose aspirin was defined as between 75 and 160 milligrams.
Some experts aren't surprised by the findings.
"What is good for the heart is also usually good for the brain," said Dr. Richard Isaacson, an associate professor of clinical neurology and director of the Alzheimer's division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Low-dose aspirin, a healthy diet, physical exercise on a regular basis, no smoking, and alcohol in moderation are all essential components of brain protection," said Isaacson, who was not involved with the study.
The study, led by Silke Kern and colleagues from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Molndal, Sweden, is published online in BMJ Open.
The researchers not only compared aspirin-users to non-users, they also looked at women taking other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Only aspirin-users reaped the brain benefits, the tests showed.
However, exactly how, or even if, low-dose aspirin affec
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