Healthy Port residents aged 70 and above are being sought to join one of the largest medical studies currently being undertaken in Australia.
The Monash University-led Statins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (STAREE) clinical trial is aiming to help answer one of the key questions confronting GPs: should statins, a class of drug to help lower cholesterol, be prescribed to healthy older people to prevent future disease, dementia and disability?
“Currently, we do not know the answer to this question which is why it is important to involve healthy older people, who have often been excluded from clinical trials to date due to their age,” researcher and registered nurse Rachel Wilks from Hunter Medical Research Institute said.
Monash partnered with HMRI 18 months ago to attract and manage Hunter study participants such as Fingal Bay resident Pamela Walker, aged 83.
“Why not?” Mrs Walker said when asked why she signed up. “I’m healthy and if I can improve someone else’s quality of life in the future, I’m happy to help.”
Mrs Walker said she was asked by her GP, who is familiar with her “good record of healthy”, to take part in the study.
After some reading on what it entailed, the active retiree agreed.
It is not the only medical study Mrs Walker has signed up for. Upon her death, Mrs Walker’s body will be donated to science.
Her brain and spinal cord will go to University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre with the view it will help advance research into motor neurone disease (MND).
Mrs Walker is one of about 400 residents from Port Stephens, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and surrounds taking part in the government funded study.
Across Australia there is about 4000 participants. The aim is to grow the study to include 10,000 people.
“STAREE is an exciting study,” Ms Wilks said. “We are focusing on prolonging good health for our participants into their senior years.
“Many of our participants have joined the study particularly interested in dementia/Alzheimer’s research and maintaining their quality of life.
“Study results will provide strong evidence to guide our community GPs in prescribing statin therapy to the most appropriate people.”
Study participants are randomly allocated to take either a statin or placebo tablet and will be followed for an average of three to five years.
Follow up is in conjunction with the participant’s GP and involves a yearly comprehensive health check by the STAREE study team.
To be involved, you must be aged 70 years or above, be free of diabetes, dementia, heart attack and stroke, not currently taking statin therapy, and be independent and community living.