Stockholm: A daily dose of acetylsalicylic acid, as big as a fourth of an aspirin, may arrest declining mental capacity among the elderly with high cardiovascular risk, says a new study.
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, to prevent heart disease.
The Gothenburg study shows that the drug also slowed decline in brain capacity among the elderly women, the British Medical Journal Open reported.
The women underwent various tests to measure their physical health and intellectual capacity, such as language and memory tests, according to a Sahlgrenska statement.
“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,” said Silke Kern, Sahlgrenska researcher.
“The decline in brain capacity was significantly less and occurred at a slower pace among the women who received acetylsalicylic acid,” said Kern.
The effect remained even when age, genetic factors 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.