A new study of 10,000 healthy, elderly Australians wants to find out if cholesterol-lowering drugs will lead to a longer, healthier life.
Healthy, elderly Australians are being recruited for the world's largest trial of statins, to see if the cholesterol-lowering drug has other benefits.
Statins are the most widely prescribed medication in Australia, used to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with cardiovascular disease and those at very high risk of the illness.
Monash University researchers want to determine if a daily dose of the drug given to healthy people aged over 70 can help them live longer, healthier lives.
Questions they want to answer include whether statins can prevent a first heart attack or stroke, or prevent dementia or be helpful in treating Alzheimer's disease.
The trial which aims to recruit 10,000 healthy Australians aged over 70 was launched in Melbourne on Monday.
Lead researcher Professor Sophia Zoungas said recent US and UK guidelines recommended using statins for primary prevention against heart attacks.
But she said the push to get all older people to take statins may be premature, as the balance of risks and benefits remained unclear for them as most research involved younger people.
The study is targeting healthy people aged over 70 with no history of heart disease, kidney and liver disease, diabetes or dementia.
They will take statins or a placebo daily and be monitored for an average of five years for heart disease, physical function, changes to cognitive function and diabetes.
Quality of life also will be measured in ways such as the ability to walk unaided and cook for oneself.
People interested in participating in the trial can speak to their GP, ring 1800770664 or go to www.staree.org.au.