It is increasingly recognised that there is a link between diseases of the heart or circulation and dementia. Risk factors for circulatory diseases such as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure also predict dementia risk. However, it is not known whether treatments such as aspirin, which help to protect against heart attacks and strokes, might have an effect on memory and brain power (known as cognitive function) and effect the risk of developing dementia.
Only two previous aspirin trials have assessed the effect of aspirin on cognitive function. In those studies, aspirin did not have any effect on cognitive function but they did not include enough people to be able to detect a small, but potentially important, effect.
Cognitive function has been assessed in previous studies using a short set of standard questions asked over the telephone or using a secure online cognitive function assessment. You will be sent more details about the tests which ASCEND plans to use later in the year.
We are grateful to Alzheimer's Research UK who have provided a grant to allow us to measure cognitive function in ASCEND participants.
Results from the ASCEND trial, along with another ongoing trials of aspirin in older people (the ASPREE trial), would be able to detect a small, but worthwhile, effect of aspirin on cognitive function.