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Aspirin provides ‘no benefit’ for preserving cognitive function

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The authors of an analysis of previously published studies said they have found no evidence that low-dose aspirin “buffers” against cognitive decline or dementia, or improves cognitive test scores.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study, appear to contradict previous suggestions that low-dose aspirin might provide some form of protection again dementia.

“Additional studies are needed to test the possibility”

Nicola Veronese

The new review and meta-analysis included eight studies with 36,196 participants who were an average of 65 years old and did not have cognitive impairment at baseline. Participants were followed for an average of six years.

In five of the studies, involving 26,159 patients, the researchers found “chronic use of low-dose aspirin was not associated with onset of dementia or cognitive impairment”.

In the three controlled trials analysed, which involved 10,037 patients, the use of low-dose aspirin was “not associated with significantly better global cognition in individuals without dementia”.

The researchers also noted that adherence was lower in trial participants taking aspirin than in controls, and the incidence of adverse events was higher.

“Additional studies are needed to test the possibility that low-dose aspirin has beneficial effects when taken over a longer period and at an earlier age,” said the study’s lead author Dr Nicola Veronese, from Padova in Italy.

The study involved researchers from Taiwan and Brazil, as well as four UK institutions – Anglia Ruskin University, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and the University of Greenwich.

Meanwhile, the results from a large randomised, controlled trial may shed further light on the issue in the near future.

ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) is an international clinical trial to determine whether daily low-dose aspirin improves quality of life for older people around the world.

The study on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and some cancers involves 19,000 participants in Australia and the US. Results are expected in 2018.

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