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Super-pill cuts heart risk - claim

Thursday May 26th, 2011

A controversial super-pill, taken daily by healthy people, could massively reduce rates of heart disease and stroke, researchers claimed today.

Known as the polypill, the drug includes aspirin and other drugs to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Experts have suggested for some time that routine drugs prescribed to prevent heart disease might as well be taken in a single pill.

Now some 378 people in seven countries have tested the concept in a British-led study. All the volunteers were identified as having an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Researchers said the study suggested the polypill halves the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

However about 16 per cent of volunteers suffered side-effects from the treatment - and five per cent were forced to stop taking the pill.

Led by the Wellcome Trust, the results of the research have been published in the journal PLoS ONE. Volunteers came from the UK, Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the USA.

Researcher Professor Anthony Rodgers said: "The results show a halving in heart disease and stroke can be expected for people taking this polypill long-term.

"We know from other trials that long-term there would also be a 25 to 50 per cent lower death rate from colon cancer, plus reductions in other major cancers, heart failure and renal failure.

"These benefits would take several years to 'kick in', but of course one of the hopes with a polypill is it helps people take medicines long-term."

Fellow researcher Professor Simon Thom, of Imperial College London, UK, said: "We now need to conduct larger trials to test whether these medicines are best provided in the form of a polypill, or as separate medicines, and whether this combination strategy improves patient adherence to cardiovascular medication."

An international randomized placebo-controlled trial of a four-component combination pill (“Polypill”) in people with raised cardiovascular risk. PLoS ONE, May 2011.

Tags: Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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