Aspirin reduces deadly cancer risk. REUTERS

A daily dose of aspirin slows down the decline in brain power among elderly women who are at high risk of developing heart disease, researchers from the University of Gothenburg have found.

The discovery was made while analysing the data of 681 women between the ages of 70 and 92 who were at high risk of heart disease and stroke.

During the 2000-2001 study, participants were made to take a mini mental state (MMSE) exam to measure their physical health and intellectual capacity, including verbal fluency and memory speed, and dementia. Their health was tracked over a period of five years, at the end of which the intellectual capacity of 489 women was assessed again.

Among the 489 women, 129 were taking low dose aspirin (75 to 160 mg) every day to ward off heart attack or stroke when the monitoring period started. As many as 94 women were taking various other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The rest of them did not consume any tablets.

After five years, the participants were again made to take the same test. The study found that on an average all the participants' MMSE score fell, but this decline was considerably less in the 66 women who had taken aspirin every day over the entire period, according to the findings published in the British Medical Journal.

The fall in MMSE score was less among those taking aspirin than those who were not taking aspirin and those women who took other NSAIDs. The same was true of the verbal and memory tests, although the differences were not statistically significant.

Although the study has found a significant change, the authors claim that theirs was an observational study, and that the MMSE cannot 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 stroke.

Researchers claim that further study will help them know more about how aspirin improves brain power.