Tuesday, 21 July 2015

World first statin trial in the elderly launched

On 22 June 2015, SPHPM launched the world’s largest study to investigate whether statin treatment prolongs good health and maintains independence among healthy individuals aged 70 years and over.

The study is being led by Principal Investigator
Professor Sophia Zoungas and is a collaboration between Monash University, The Menzies Research Institute (The University of Tasmania), Australian National University, University of Western Australia and Curtin University.

The study is being conducted with General Practitioner co-investigators. Participant visits and data collection are undertaken by the STAREE research staff.

Statins (referred to as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are a specific class of drugs that assist in lowering circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is essential in cholesterol synthesis.

Research indicates that by reducing cholesterol, statins prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with a history of cardiovascular disease. Statin use in Australia in people over the age of 65 is 40 per cent. Recent clinical guidelines from the United States and United Kingdom advise that statins should also be utilised by those at increased risk of a cardiovascular disease, including healthy people aged 75 and above as a primary preventive measure.

“The reduction of LDL cholesterol, known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol, can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease including myocardial infarctions or stroke,” Professor Zoungas said.

“Evidence indicates that between 18-55 per cent of reductions in LDL cholesterol can be attributed to the use of statin treatment.”

However there is uncertainty about the efficacy of statins for preventing cardiovascular disease in healthy elderly individuals due to a lack of elderly participants in previous statin trials.

“Most research into statins and health has been done in middle-aged people. STAREE is seeking to determine whether the use of daily statin therapy can maintain good health and extend independence in individuals aged 70  years or over, over an average of five years.

“STAREE is also exploring if the use of statins can play a role in preventing disability in the elderly. STAREE is the first clinical trial of its kind to explore this hypothesis,” Professor Zoungas said.

It is hoped that the STAREE study can identify the direct impact of statins on elderly health outcomes as well as answer important questions regarding the use of statin treatment for preventing  dementia or possible use in treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Funding for STAREE has been provided by the NHMRC. The project has been awarded with the largest single project grant by the NHMRC. Ethical approval has been received from both the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee and the RACGP National Research and Evaluation Committee.

For more information go to the STAREE website

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