Published on October 26, 2020

Essentia Health enrolling older adults for clinical study

Enrollment is now open at Essentia Health 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 aged 75 and older maintain their health by preventing dementia, disability and heart disease.

The study, which aims to be one of the largest ever conducted among older adults, will include more than 20,000 participants and 100 sites across the United States. It will randomize participants without heart disease or dementia to receive either atorvastatin or placebo. 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.

The study is designed to make research participation easy and efficient. Researchers will follow participants using electronic health records, Medicare data and with phone visits.

“PREVENTABLE is a remarkable study for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Katie Benziger, a cardiologist at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Heart & Vascular Center. “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 learn whether they are helpful for older adults without heart disease.”

Statins are a common name for a group of medications that help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

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.

“Patients often ask me what they can do to stay healthy and prevent dementia.” said Karen Alexander, MD, a geriatric cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center and the 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.”

Visit to learn more about PREVENTABLE. For more information, including who can take part in the study, please contact Ryan Thiel, research and evaluation specialist at Essentia Health, at (218) 786-8856 or

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