While the results indicate that aspirin may protect the brain, at least among women at high risk for a heart attack or stroke, the effects of long-term treatment aren't known. The researchers will now track the same women for five more years.
Some U.S. experts, including Isaacson, already recommend low-dose aspirin to help reduce risk for Alzheimer's disease and improve brain health.
"I have recommended 81 milligrams of baby aspirin for my patients with any vascular risk factors who are either at risk for developing cognitive decline or who currently have mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease," said Isaacson.
He said that the benefits of daily baby aspirin typically outweigh the risks unless the person has a history of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Another expert, Dr. Sam Gandy, an associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York City, said the findings are absolutely plausible.
"At least some of the risk for Alzheimer's disease is due to underlying cardiovascular disease, so inasmuch as aspirin helps protect from [heart disease], it is bound to have some benefit in reducing the risk for Alzheimer's disease," said Gandy. However, further studies are needed to confirm the findings, he said.
The American Heart Association has more about aspirin's role in heart attack prevention.
SOURCES: Richard Isaacson, M.D., associate professor, clinical neurology, and director, Alzheimer's division, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; S
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