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Published on 26 April 2007

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Low-dose aspirin “does not protect women against cognitive decline”

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Taking low-dose aspirin does not protect older women against cognitive decline, according to a large study published on the BMJ website.

Identifyingways to prevent dementia is a public health priority. Evidence suggeststhat aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs may protect againstdementia, but data from randomised studies to date have beeninconclusive. So researchers in the USA decided to test the effect oflong term use of low dose aspirin on overall cognitive decline among alarge sample of women.

Jae Hee Kang and colleagues atBrigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, identified 6,377 womenaged 65 years or more who were taking part in the Women’s Health Studybetween 1998 and 2004.

The women were randomly dividedinto two groups. Over a period of nearly 10 years the first group tooklow-dose aspirin (100mg on alternate days) and the second group took aplacebo pill. Each woman had three cognitive assessments at two-yearintervals to measure general cognition, verbal memory, and categoryfluency.

At the initial assessment (after 5.6 years oftreatment) cognitive performance in the aspirin group was similar tothat of the placebo group. Average performance across all tests fromthe first to the final assessment (after 9.6 years of treatment) wasalso similar in the aspirin group compared with the placebo group. Therisk of substantial decline was also comparable between the groups.

Therewas some suggestion that women in the aspirin group performed better inthe category fluency test than women in the placebo group. However, theauthors stress that this result should be interpreted with caution.

Theyconclude: “In this study, we observed no apparent benefit of low-doseaspirin in slowing cognitive decline over four years. Other methods forpreserving cognitive function in older people need to be investigated.”

Kang JH, et al. Low dose aspirin and cognitive function in the women’s health study cognitive cohort. BMJ Online First. Available online at: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/april/aspirin.pdf

 



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