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Biz brief: National Institute on Aging funds major study

WINSTON-SALEM — The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has funded a major study by Wake Forest Baptist Health and Duke University Medical Center to examine the overall benefits and risks of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins in adults age 75 or older without cardiovascular disease.

The trial will help determine whether a statin can help prevent dementia and disability in this age group as well as heart attacks and other cardiovascular-related deaths, while not increasing risks of adverse health outcomes.

Funding for the trial, called Pragmatic Evaluation of Events and Benefits of Lipid-Lowering in Older Adults is expected to total $90 million over the next seven years. NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“This is a major push by the federal government in partnership with places like Wake Forest School of Medicine to start including older people in clinical research and to redesign it so that they can participate more easily,” said Jeff Williamson, M.D., co-principal investigator of the study and professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health. “People in the study will be able to stay at home and have a trained research assistant come to them to do the physical and cognitive function assessments and check on their overall health status. Medications for the study will be shipped directly to their home.”

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