Dr McGeer and colleagues report on a study of the neuroinflammatory process leading to the cognitive deficits that define Alzheimer disease clinical onset in an article titled “Alzheimer’s disease can be spared by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” published in the Journal of Alzheimer Disease.
They recommend that people get tested for peptide amyloid beta protein 42 (Abeta 42) in saliva at age 55, 10 years prior to the usual age of 65 when the onset of Alzheimer disease would typically occur. If it’s elevated, these people should take daily ibuprofen to ward off the disease, according to a related News item published in the BCMJ [2018;60:191].
In March 2017 the European Society of Cardiology issued a press release titled “‘Harmless’ painkillers associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest, with specific reference to ibuprofen and diclofenac.”
On 5 November 2017, the FDA strengthened labels warning that (nonaspirin) NSAIDs, used for the temporary relief of pain and fever, can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
In addition, elderly people may have increased cardiovascular risk and disease.
In their article, Dr McGeer’s team states “we are currently investigating whether NSAID consumption can affect these levels [of Abeta 42].”
Hence, the general public should be cautioned not to jump into action by taking daily ibuprofen to prevent Alzheimer disease until Dr McGeer’s investigation has been completed. It is not clear if long-term daily use of ibuprofen associates with significant cardiovascular side effects.
—H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC
Dr McGeer has read Dr Wong’s letter and agrees with his comments. —ED.
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