Aspirin "Lunch"by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Does Aspirin Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease? Interview with:

Joanne Ryan, PhD Senior Research Fellow, ASPREE From the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Monash University Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Ryan

Joanne Ryan, PhD
Senior Research Fellow, ASPREE
From the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia What is the background for this study?

Response: Aspirin is a commonly used drug known to reduce inflammation, and prevent blood clotting (antiplatelet) – which is why it is commonly used in secondary prevention in individuals with established cardiovascular disease.

Inflammation is thought to be a central mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease, implicated in the neuropathological cascade leading to the development of dementia and other forms of dementia.

Cardiovascular risk factors and stroke are both associated with cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia.

This formed the basis of the hypothesis that aspirin could be beneficial in helping to reduce cognitive decline and the occurrence of Alzheimer’s Disease. What are the main findings? 

Response: Unfortunately, the main findings of our study do not support this hypothesis.

Instead the results showed that among 19,114 older individuals over 5 years, those randomised to aspirin compared to placebo, did not have a reduced risk of developing Alzehimer’s disease.

Furthermore, aspirin and placebo groups did not show any differences in terms of milder losses of memory or thinking ability. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This paper indicates that aspirin should not be prescribed solely on the basis of potential cognitive benefits as there is no evidence to suggest this, nor that low-dose aspirin could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The cognitive health of ASPREE participants is being tracked in the follow-up ASPREE-XT study to determine whether the benefits of aspirin may become apparent later on. Because dementia can take years to develop, it is possible that ASPREE was not a long enough trial to show possible benefits from aspirin, so we will continue to examine for long-lasting effects of aspirin in study participants in the coming years. The ASPREE participants were aged 65 years and older at the start of the trial. The findings therefore do not address the question of whether low-dose aspirin initiated at a younger age could be beneficial.  

I have nothing to disclose.


Joanne Ryan, Elsdon Storey, Anne M. Murray, Robyn L. Woods, Rory Wolfe, Christopher M. Reid, Mark R. Nelson, Trevor T.J. Chong, Jeff D. Williamson, Stephanie A. Ward, Jessica E. Lockery, Suzanne G. Orchard, Ruth Trevaks, Brenda Kirpach, Anne B. Newman, Michael E. Ernst, John J. McNeil, Raj C. Shah. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of the effects of aspirin on dementia and cognitive decline. Neurology, 2020; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009277 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009277



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Last Updated on March 28, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD