PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Will a daily baby aspirin keep the brain young in old age?

A study of older Swedish women suggests there may be something to that.

“This study pretty clearly shows if you look at a very specific population, it may actually reduce your risk,” says Allegheny General Hospital neuropsychologist Dr. Carol Schramke.

Nearly 700 women, ages 70 to 92, with heart and vessel disease were followed for five years. They had to have normal thinking and memory at the start, and could not be on blood thinners.

At the beginning and at the end, performance on a memory and thinking screening test worth 30 points was compared for women taking low dose aspirin and those not.

For the group not taking aspirin, their scores declined a point on average. The scores remained about the same for the group taking the inexpensive, simple drug.

“A one point decline in five years probably is really important,” Dr. Schramke says. “If it slows it down a little bit over five years, would it be even more important for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years?”

The study compares the risk of memory loss with and without aspirin. As for cause and effect, it could be the aspirin or other factors.

“It may be this is helpful for people with cardiovascular disease, but it’s not as helpful in other populations,” Dr. Schramke continues.

This study was of a very specific group of women. More research will be needed to see if the results apply to other groups.

“I know people get frustrated when they hear these studies and think, ‘oh, here’s another one, they say this is good, they say this is bad;’ but really, to further research, we need to do lots of studies in lots of different populations,” she adds.

Because there are risks, don’t pop the baby aspirin just yet.

“In the wrong population, it may make it more likely that you’ll get small bleeds in your brain, or get a bleed in your gut, and you don’t want either of those things,” she cautions.

Wait for your doctor to give you the go ahead.

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Dr. Maria Simbra