European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 313–319 | Cite as

Does aspirin protect against Alzheimer's dementia? A study in a Swedish population-based sample aged ≥80 years

  • Sven E. Nilsson
  • Boo Johansson
  • Sanna Takkinen
  • Stig Berg
  • Steven Zarit
  • Gerald McClearn
  • Arne MelanderEmail author
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription



It has been reported that aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) may protect against dementia of Alzheimer's type and/or vascular dementia. However, co-morbidity and the dose of aspirin may be critical. A major indication for low-dose aspirin is prophylaxis after stroke and transient ischaemic attacks, conditions that may obscure an anti-dementia effect by the drug. Alternatively, low-dose aspirin may be insufficient if the protective effect is due to an anti-inflammatory mechanism. The aim of this study was to assess whether high-dose or low-dose aspirin may protect against Alzheimer's dementia in subjects aged ≥80 years. For comparison, effects of (other) NSAID, paracetamol and d-propoxyphene were studied.


Global, cross-sectional, and longitudinal (1991–2000) epidemiological analyses of clinical, cognitive and drug treatment data on 702 individuals 80 years old or more (351 twin pairs of same sex), all alive at inclusion: mean age 83.9 years (80–99 years). Calculations were made with logistic regression of associations between use of various analgesics and cognitive function, after adjustment for age, gender, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.


Users of high-dose aspirin had significantly lower prevalence of Alzheimer's dementia and better-maintained cognitive function than non-users. There were numerically similar but not significant associations with use of low-dose aspirin and other NSAID. There were no such associations with use of either paracetamol or d-propoxyphene.


Aspirin might protect against Alzheimer's disease, but controlled trials are warranted.


Aspirin NSAID Alzheimer 



The OCTO Twin Study ("The Origins of Variance in the Old-Old: Octogenarian Twins") is an ongoing longitudinal study conducted at the Institute of Gerontology (IG), at the School of Health Sciences in Jönköping, Sweden, in collaboration with the Center for Developmental and Health Genetics at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), USA, and the Department of Medical Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The authors are greatly indebted to the project assistants Lene Ahlbäck, Agneta Carlholt, Gunilla Hjalmarsson, Eva Georgsson and Anna-Lena Wetterholm who travelled throughout the country and examined the twins. Invaluable help in coordinating the study is provided by Inger Cronholm, Ingegerd Brandström at IG, and Elana Pyle at PSU. The authors are also grateful to hospital and health care archivists for their willingness to provide medical records and to Monica Tubbin for her administrative efforts in handling all the records. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA: AG 08861).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven E. Nilsson
    • 1
  • Boo Johansson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sanna Takkinen
    • 1
  • Stig Berg
    • 1
  • Steven Zarit
    • 3
  • Gerald McClearn
    • 4
  • Arne Melander
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of GerontologySchool of Health Sciences, Jönköping UniversityJönköpingSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Gerontology CenterPennsylvania State University, University ParkUSA
  4. 4.Developmental and Health GeneticsPennsylvania State University, University ParkUSA
  5. 5.The NEPI Foundation and Department of Community MedicineMedical Research Centre, Malmö University Hospital, Lund UniversityMalmöSweden

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