Polypill could prevent heart and circulatory disease

23 August 2019        

Category: BHF Comment

A low-cost polypill—combining four cardiovascular drugs in a single pill—cuts the risk of major heart and circulatory disease events by a third over five years, and might substantially reduce the burden of heart disease if adopted widely, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Pill bottles

A once-daily polypill safely reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure by more than a third over five years compared with lifestyle advice alone, according to the first large randomised trial of its kind involving almost 7,000 individuals aged 50–75 years in Iran.

The effects were seen in a wide range of individuals, including those with and without a history of heart disease.

The findings, published in The Lancet, demonstrate for the first time the effectiveness of a fixed-dose combination polypill—containing two commonly used blood pressure lowering drugs, a cholesterol-lowering medicine, and aspirin—for both the primary and secondary prevention of heart disease in the general population, and indicate that the benefits of widespread polypill use outweigh any known side effects. 

Our Associate Medical Director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, said:
 
“This study shows that in low- and middle-income countries, where the use of medicines to reduce heart disease risk is low, a single pill combining several drugs is safe and effective.
 
“In the UK,  as many as a third of people with high blood pressure are undiagnosed and many of those who are diagnosed aren’t managing their condition properly, even though we already have several effective medicines.
 
“This means that the biggest priority in the UK is to identify more people who do not realise they have high blood cholesterol or high blood pressure, and to help people prescribed medications to take them as prescribed.”

 

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