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Veterans 75 and older can participate in a new study to see if a cholesterol drug can help maintain health by preventing dementia, disability, and heart disease.

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center is one of 50 VA hospitals and 100 sites throughout the nation that will participate in the study called PREVENTABLE. Researchers will see if atorvastatin – commonly called Lipitor – can provide other health benefits besides lowering cholesterol.

More than 20,000 participants will be chosen nationwide. The study will randomize participants without heart disease or dementia to receive atorvastatin or a placebo. Researchers will follow participants for up to five years and test their memory, thinking, physical abilities, and monitor them for events such as heart attacks or strokes.

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

“PREVENTABLE is a remarkable study for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Jeffrey Whittle, the Milwaukee VA lead investigator. “Few studies have focused exclusively on individuals aged 75 or older. While statins have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events for some patients, PREVENTABLE will help us to learn whether they are helpful for older adults without heart disease.”

About one in three people in the U.S. over the age of 75 without heart disease are taking statins. So 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. Watch this video to learn key aspects of PREVENTABLE and why this study is important to older adults.

“Patients often ask me what they can do to stay healthy and prevent dementia,” said Dr. Karen Alexander, a geriatric cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center and principal investigator for PREVENTABLE. “This study will help to clarify the benefit of statins for this population. This is important to do before adding one more medication to the list of medicines older adults are often already taking. Results from this study will help us provide valuable answers to improve how we age.”

PREVENTABLE is funded by the National Institute of Aging and the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about PREVENTABLE, visit

To find out who can take part in the study in Milwaukee, or for more information, call Sage Coles-Dogan
at 414-384-2000, ext. 46627, or e-mail


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