Aspirin may boost surgery patients' survival odds and protect against mental declines that sometimes affect critically ill patients after having an operation, new research shows.
Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institutet noted molecules naturally produced by the body from omega-3 fatty acids — called resolvins — have been found to offer protection against the cognitive impairments often seen in surgical patients during recovery. In a new study published in FASEB Journal
, published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology,
Karolinska researchers say aspirin appears to jumpstart that process.
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The researchers noted hospitalization for surgery or critical illness can lead to inattention, disorganized thinking, altered consciousness, learning problems, and memory loss, particularly among seniors. Scientists still don’t know why surgery and/or anesthesia cause these problems, but the Swedish researchers have found inflammation and release of pro-inflammatory molecules, like cytokines, play an important role in causing brain inflammation and cognitive decline after surgery.
The new study also suggests it is possible to prevent and treat this condition by blocking that inflammation with a single dose of aspirin, which triggers the release of a particular resolvin known scientifically as AT-RvD1.
"Aspirin works as an anti-inflammatory … but in the presence of essential omega-3 fatty acids can also increase the body's own production of various lipid mediators, including resolvins like AT-RvD1, which promote resolution of inflammatory processes," said lead researcher Lars I. Eriksson.
"These molecules, aside from reversing inflammation, also promote healing and tissue regeneration that are of relevance to patient safety and recovery. We hope to apply these therapies to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk surgical patients by translating our findings into patient care."
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