10p Pill could reduce heart disease risk by 50%

A new drug combined of four common drugs has proven it can halve the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Polypill, a combined tablet of four common drugs known to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, could halve the risk of heart attacks, strokes, bowel cancer and kidney failure, scientists have discovered.

A study funded by the Wellcome Trust, found a reduction in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in participants who were given the polypill compared to those who were given a placebo tablet.

‘The results show a halving in heart disease and stroke can be expected for people taking this polypill long term,’ says leader of the study Professor Anthony Rodgers of the George Institute for Global Health in Australia.

Now researchers need to lead larger trials to determine whether the drugs are better taken together or separately. If the results show the drugs are better combined, the polypill will prove both easier for patients to administer and cheaper with the cost in Britain as low as £3 a month.  

‘Many people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are required to take multiple pills every day in order to reduce their risk,’ says Dr Lorna Layward from the Stroke Association.

‘Calculating when each pill needs to be taken can often be confusing and so combining the pills into one could make taking the medication much simpler.’

‘However, it’s important to note that this pill might not be suitable for everyone and it may have side-effects so every patient should be assessed and treated on an individual basis.’ Side effects such as internal bleeding and coughing were found, and one in 20 participants stopped taking the polypill as a result.

‘While the concept of taking one pill rather than many sounds appealing, this was a small study and we’d need to see results from much larger trials to determine the validity of its potential benefits,’ says Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

‘While medicines could help to reduce risk, they’re not a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle,’ she insisted.

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