1000th volunteer enters world-first trial to determine whether cholesterol lowering drugs improve health

staree trial

A Monash University trial is investigating whether cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) can lead to a healthier life, with greater independence and lower disability. Targeting people aged 70 years and above, the trial has reached an important milestone with the registration of its 1000th participant.

The STAtins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (STAREE) trial aims to recruit 10,000 people Australia-wide to determine whether statins – the low cost, over-the-counter drug used by millions to protect against heart attacks – could be the drug of choice for everything from preventing disability to prolonging life.

Seventy-one year old Mrs Susan Bell, from East Bentleigh, is the 1000th participant to enrol.  With health conditions including rheumatoid arthritis  (which increases the risk of heart disease) and some consistent chest pain, her GP suggested her as a candidate for the trial.   

“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,” she said.

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

Professor Zoungas said by reducing cholesterol, statins prevented heart attacks and strokes in people with a history of, or at high risk for, cardiovascular disease. The treatment was the most commonly prescribed in Australia with about 40 per cent of Australians aged over 65 currently taking statin therapy.

The trial will also look at whether statins impact the day-to-day physical function of older people.

Answers to these important questions will guide health policy and patient care both nationally and internationally.

For more information on the STAREE trial call 1800 770 664, or visit the website.