‘Polypill’ May Cut Heart Attack, Stroke Risk By 40%

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A single pill loaded with cholesterol and blood pressure medications can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 40%, a new international study reports.

The “polypill” containing three generic blood pressure medications and a statin dramatically reduced the risk of heart-related illness in people with no prior history of heart problems, according to clinical trial results.

When taken on its own, the polypill reduced by about 20% the risk of heart attack, stroke, procedures to reopen clogged arteries and other heart disease, the researchers reported.

The polypill combined with daily low-dose aspirin was even more effective, reducing heart health problems by up to 40%, the findings showed.

“We’ve estimated that if even just one-half of people with high blood pressure or diabetes were treated with such a polypill, at least somewhere between 2 and 4 million premature deaths, heart attacks and strokes would be avoided every year,” said lead researcher Dr. Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada.

Such a polypill would have other benefits as well, Yusuf said. It would be easier for patients, who wouldn’t have to juggle fistfuls of daily medications, and for doctors who’d only have to write one prescription. A single pill also is cheaper to market and distribute.

“I personally would just like to get people to use the components either separately or together. If it’s more convenient together, why not?” Yusuf said.

The study results were published online Nov. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine. For the trial, more than 5,700 people from nine countries were randomly assigned to one of four groups. They were asked to take one of the following daily: both the polypill and aspirin, the polypill alone, aspirin alone, or only a placebo.

The polypill used in this study included cholesterol-lowering simvastatin and three blood pressure meds (a beta blocker called atenolol, a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide and an ACE inhibitor called ramipril).

Compared with placebo, the polypill successfully lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, the investigators found.

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