Past studies have suggested that the humble aspirin can benefit cardiovascular health. For this reason, some researchers had hypothesized that this drug might also help prevent dementia or at least slow down cognitive decline. A new study, however, now disproves this notion.
New research has found that taking low dose aspirin daily neither affects a person’s dementia risk nor slows down cognitive decline. Historically, doctors have prescribed low dose aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular problems in ageing populations.
However, newer research indicates that although aspirin can indeed help protect the cardiovascular system in some cases, not everyone will benefit from taking this readily available over-the-counter drug.
Doctors had hoped that aspirin's heart protection might extend to preventing #dementia. New studies show it does not. #aspirin #hearthealth #mentalhealth #CognitiveDecline #Neurologyhttps://t.co/zQYeWVidjL
— The Advocate Is In (@TheAdvocateIsIn) March 27, 2020
Still, due to aspirin’s potential in safeguarding aspects of cardiovascular health, some researchers had wondered whether it might also help prevent or delay dementia since brain and heart health are connected to a degree.
Now, a team of investigators from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has proven that hypothesis wrong.
The researchers present their findings in a study paper that features in the journal Neurology.
“Worldwide, an estimated 50 million people have some form of dementia, a number that is expected to grow as the population increases, so the scientific community is eager to find a low-cost treatment that may reduce a person’s risk,” says co-author Joanne Ryan, PhD.
No difference between aspirin and placebo
In their study, the investigators analyzed the data of 19,114 participants who had neither dementia nor heart disease at baseline.
All of the participants were community-dwelling individuals aged 65 years or older who had enrolled in the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial measuring the effects of low dose aspirin.
They all took specialized tests to assess their thinking skills and memory, both at baseline and during annual follow-up sessions. The total follow-up period was 4.7 years, on average.
As part of the trial, half of the participants took 100-milligram low dose aspirin each day. The rest of the participants acted as the control group, taking placebo on a daily basis instead.
Aspirin had not had any effect on the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia, and it did not slow down participants’ rate of cognitive decline over time.
Still, the researchers do point out that other outcomes may have become visible given a longer study period.