A daily, low-dose aspirin regimen doesn't reduce the risk of dementia

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Researchers at the American Academy of Neurology recently conducted a study that was designed to investigate what effect low-dose aspirin can have on cognitive function. They learned that a daily aspirin regimen isn’t effective in reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

“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,” said researcher Joanne Ryan, PhD. 

“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.”

How is cognition affected?

The researchers started by dividing nearly 20,000 participants into two groups: half of the participants received low-dose aspirin each day of the study; the other half of the participants took a placebo. 

The researchers assessed their cognitive function at the start of the study, evaluating their thinking and memory skills. Participants’ progress was tracked for just under five years, and the researchers evaluated the same skills at various check-ins over the course of the study. 

While none of the participants had any history of dementia at the start of the study, by the time it was over, nearly 600 participants had developed the condition. Ultimately, the aspirin played no role in strengthening or weakening the participants’ cognitive function, and it also wasn’t a factor in whether or not they developed dementia. 

The researchers believe that one such reason this trial was unsuccessful was that all of the participants were healthy when the study began. Previous research has indicated that an aspirin regimen is typically unsuccessful in warding off other health conditions, like heart disease or stroke, when consumers aren’t affected by either issue. 

Moving forward, they want to follow these findings over a longer period of time to see if the study participants can reap the benefits associated with low-dose aspirin. 

“While these results are disappointing, it is possible that the length of just under five years for our study was not long enough to show possible health benefits from aspirin, so we will continue to examine its potential longer-term effects by following up with study participants in the coming years,” said Dr. Ryan. 

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