A low-dose aspirin once a day does not reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer disease (AD). According to a study published by Neurology it also does not slow the rate of cognitive decline.
Because daily aspirin can be useful in preventing a secondary stroke, it has been hypothesized that daily aspirin may also be beneficial to the brain by reducing inflammation, minimizing small clots, or preventing the narrowing of blood vessels within the brain.
The study (NCT01038583) involved 19,114 participants age 70 years or more who did not have dementia or heart disease. The participants had cognitive assessments at the start of the study and at follow-up visits.
Half of the participants were given daily 100-mg low-dose aspirin, and the other half were given a placebo. They were followed for an average of 4.7 years, with annual in-person examinations. Over the course of the study, 575 participants developed dementia.
For the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or probable AD, researchers found no difference between those who took aspirin and those who took placebo. Also, there was no difference in the rate of cognitive change over time.
“Unfortunately, our large study found that a daily low-dose aspirin provided no benefit to study participants at either preventing dementia or slowing cognitive decline,” said Joanne Ryan, PhD, Monash University School of Public Health, Melbourne, Australia. “While these results are disappointing, it is possible that the length of just under 5 years for our study was not long enough to show possible benefits from aspirin, so we will continue to examine its potential longer-term effects by following up with study participants in the coming years.”
Stephen M. Gollomp, MD, and Paul G. Mathew, MD, DNBPAS, FAAN, FAHS
Audrius V. Plioplys, MD
Melissa W. Ko, MD; Kevin E. Lai, MD; and Devin D. Mackay, MD