Monday, 26 June 2017

1,000th participant joins statin trial

1,000th participant Susan Ball (centre) celebrates with StaREE team members

Based on an article by Fleur O’Hare and Tania Ewing

An SPHPM-led national trial investigating whether cholesterol lowering drugs can lead to a healthier life in people 70 years of age and above has reached an important milestone with the registration of its 1,000th participant.

The STAtins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (STAREE) trial aims to recruit over 10,000 older adults to explore the debate around who are likely to benefit from statin treatment, weighing up the benefits and potential side effects of treatment. Statins are low cost, over-the-counter drugs used by millions of Australians to protect against heart attacks. 

Mrs Susan Ball from East Bentleigh, was the 1,000th participant to enrol and she recently joined the research team in a morning tea to celebrate. Her GP put her forward as a participant following investigations for rheumatoid arthritis and ongoing chest pain. Susan says,

“I’ve nothing to lose, and so much to gain – not only for my own health but if the study can help my children and their children have better health in old age that would be marvellous.”

The study, led by Professor Sophia Zoungas, from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, looks at whether daily statins can assist in maintaining independence in people aged 70 and above, including preventing heart attacks, dementia and disability.

Professor Zoungas said it is known that by reducing cholesterol, statins prevented heart attacks and strokes in people with a history of, or at high risk for, cardiovascular disease. About 40 per cent of Australians aged over 65 years take statins.

She hopes the trial results will guide health policy and patient care nationally and internationally. The trial is funded by the government and not sponsored by any pharmaceutical company.

Trial recruitment is ongoing via GP practices. Participants need to be healthy people aged 70 years and older, with no history of heart disease, kidney and liver disease, diabetes or dementia. 

“Participants, either taking daily statin or a placebo, will be monitored for an average of five years for heart disease, physical function, changes to cognitive function, diabetes and quality of life metrics such as ability to walk unaided and independence such as cooking for oneself,” Professor Zoungas added.

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