A ‘polypill’ combining a statin with three blood pressure drugs could prevent over 90,000 heart attacks and strokes every year.
Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, tested the pill on 84 participants over the age of 50.
A polypill combines a statin with three blood pressure drugs
The patients were given either a polypill or a placebo sugar pill once a day for three months. After three months the treatments were swapped, so over a six month period all participants would have half the time taking the active drug and the other half taking the dummy pill.
Writing in the journal PLoS One, the researchers calculated that the polypill reduced high blood pressure by 12 per cent and LDL cholesterol by 39 per cent.
Doctors calculated that if half of the over 50s in the UK took the daily pill it would prevent 94,000 heart attacks and strokes each year.
Whilst the study did not test the safety of the drugs, the scientists argued that all the components of the polypills had been used for decades. The British Heart Foundation's senior cardiac nurse, Natasha Stewart, said:
"Research into polypills is encouraging, but there are still many questions to answer before this 'wonder drug' is prescribed by doctors.”
"This research only studied a very small number of people, so we'd need to see further large scale trials on a wider population to get more detailed results.”
Natasha Stewart also emphasised that medicines are not a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle, and staying active, eating healthily and not smoking are still the best ways to keep the heart in good shape.
Nonetheless, researchers are calling for regulatory bodies to approve the polypill urgently. The pill will need to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency before being available to prescribe to patients with private medical insurance.
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