Can a statin maintain the health of adults 75 and older?

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UT Health San Antonio's Sam and Ann Barshop Institute is enrolling volunteers for the PREVENTABLE study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Volunteers must come from the San Antonio area, unless they are able to travel further for a few needed study assessments. PREVENTABLE will look at whether a statin medication, Lipitor, can keep adults 75 and older healthier. Interested people may call the Barshop Institute clinical research line at (210) 450-0020.

"Most, if not all, of the studies of statins have been done in much younger people, in their 50s and 60s, but studies in adults over 75 are rare.” -- Nicolas Musi, MD, UT Health San Antonio

UT Health San Antonio’s Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies announced Nov. 27 that enrollment is open for a new clinical trial called PREVENTABLE. The study will investigate whether taking atorvastatin, a drug commonly used to lower cholesterol also called Lipitor®, can help adults age 75 and older maintain health by preventing dementia, disability and heart disease.

The study, which aims to be one of the largest ever conducted in older adults, will include more than 20,000 participants across the U.S., including 450 from San Antonio. The study will randomize participants without heart disease or dementia to receive either atorvastatin or placebo. The placebo looks like the study drug but has no medicine in it. Researchers will follow participants for up to five years and test their memory, thinking and physical abilities, and monitor them for events such as heart attacks or strokes.

Study participation will be easy and efficient. Researchers will follow participants using electronic health records and Medicare data, and with study visits over the telephone. Study drug will be shipped directly to participants’ homes every three months.

The Barshop Institute at UT Health San Antonio is one of the first PREVENTABLE study sites to be activated, said principal investigator Nicolas Musi, MD, institute director and professor of medicine in the university’s Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

“We really don’t know how these drugs work in older adults,” Dr. Musi said. “Most, if not all, of the studies of statins have been done in much younger people, in their 50s and 60s, but studies in adults over 75 are rare.”

About one in three people in the U.S. over the age of 75 without heart disease are taking statins. In addition to learning whether statins can prolong health in older adults, the PREVENTABLE study will help clarify which older adults should not be taking statins.

“Participants don’t have to have a history of high cholesterol,” Dr. Musi, an endocrinologist, said. “This study is conducted to see if this medicine, regardless of cholesterol level, is able to improve cognition and brain function, prevent dementia, improve physical function, and prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes.”

"Persons with a history of heart disease, stroke or dementia are not eligible for the study, but people with diabetes are eligible," Dr. Musi said. "So are patients with mild cognitive impairment."

The National Institutes of Health, which is funding the study, is interested in San Antonio as a center of minority participant recruitment. “The PREVENTABLE study is not exclusively for the Hispanic population, but this group is of special interest to us,” Dr. Musi said.

Interested people may call the Barshop Institute clinical research line at (210) 450-0020.

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The Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is named for Texas philanthropists Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long. The school is the largest educator of physicians in South Texas, many of whom remain in San Antonio and the region to practice medicine. The school teaches more than 900 students and trains 800 residents each year. As a beacon of multicultural sensitivity, the school annually exceeds the national medical school average of Hispanic students enrolled. The school’s clinical practice is the largest multidisciplinary medical group in South Texas with 850 physicians in more than 100 specialties. The school has a highly productive research enterprise where world leaders in Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer, aging, heart disease, kidney disease and many other fields are translating molecular discoveries into new therapies. The Long School of Medicine is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center known for prolific clinical trials and drug development programs, as well as a world-renowned center for aging and related diseases.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 37,000 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields, and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit http://www.uthscsa.edu.

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Will Sansom
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