A low-cost, four-in-one pill, can cut the number of heart attacks and strokes by a third, a study shows.
This daily pill contains blood-thinning aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering statin and two drugs to lower blood pressure. All these medications are readily available, but the idea is that combining them into one tablet will make compliance easier. The researchers say this would be useful for the people who can’t afford pills or find it difficult to take medicines separately. The researchers – in Iran and the UK – said the pill had a huge impact but cost just pennies a day.
The study, published in the Lancet, was based in more than 100 villages in Iran and about 6,800 people took part. Half the people were given the polypill and advice on how to improve their lifestyle, with the other half just getting the advice. Researchers tracked them over five years and found the polypill group were 34 per cent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. This included a 40 per cent reduced risk for those with no prior history of heart disease and a 20 per cent reduction in those who had previously had heart problems. Participants who stuck to the pill as directed throughout the five years got the best results.
One of the study authors Professor Tom Marshall, from the University of Birmingham, said: ‘This is the largest trial confirming the value of the polypill and showing it is effective in the prevention of heart disease’. “We’ve provided evidence in a developing or middle-income country – and that’s a lot of countries – that this is a strategy worth considering,” he added.
“Our results showed a significant reduction in major cardiovascular event risk in the polypill group,” professor Reza Malekzadeh, from Tehran, said. “Because the risks of side-effects from the components are very low, and the potential benefits are very high, the polypill is very safe. But the polypill is not an alternative to a healthy lifestyle and should be combined with physical activity, a healthy diet, and smoking cessation,” he added.
The polypill led to large reductions in bad cholesterol but had only a slight effect on blood pressure, the study showed. “Given the polypill’s affordability, there is considerable potential to improve cardiovascular health and to prevent the world’s leading cause of death,” said Dr Nizal Sarrafzadegan, of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran.
However, the benefits would be minimal for people who already have good access to health care.

Source: BBC, Times of India, New York Post, Brinkwire.com

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