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Researchers hail super-pill success

Thursday July 19th, 2012

Early trials of a proposed super pill to prevent heart disease have come up with promising results, it was announced last night.

Some experts say the pill, known as the Polypill, could be given to everyone over the age of 50.

But the first study has involved just 86 patients. The pill includes a statin to reduce cholesterol and three blood pressure pills.

Participants in the trial include a professor of pharmaceutical policy at University College London, Professor David Taylor.

Researchers at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine & Dentistry used a randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial to achieve the highest standards of research over three months.

People who took the genuine pill achieved a 12 per cent cut in blood pressure and a 39 per cent reduction in levels of the unhealthy form of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein - or LDL, the researchers reported in PLoS One.

Researcher Dr David Wald said the findings suggested the pill could give recipients 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke.

He said: "Our trial shows that the predicted effects of the Polypill can be achieved in practice. The expected impact on preventing what is now the world's leading cause of death is large -- about a two-thirds reduction in heart attacks and strokes."

Professor Taylor said: "The Polypill concept is a major public health advance. This study shows that it works. The Polypill should be made generally available as a matter of urgency.

"I welcome the opportunity to substantially cut my risk of having a stroke or heart attack without the disempowering fuss and bother usually required to obtain preventive medicines."

Professor Nicholas Wald, who originated the Polypill idea, called for political backing for the idea.

He said: "We now need public, professional and regulatory support to make the Polypill available without delay; the net benefits are too large to ignore - even if only 50 percent of people aged 50 or more took the Polypill, about 94,000 heart attacks and stroke would be prevented each year in the UK."

But the British Heart Foundation warned against treating the pill as a miracle cure for unhealthy lifestyles.

Natasha Stewart, of the Foundation, said: “Research into polypills is encouraging, but there are still many questions to answer before this ‘wonder drug’ is prescribed by doctors.

“However interesting this potential new pill is, medicines are not a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle. Staying active, eating healthily and not smoking are still vital ways to help keep your heart in good shape.”

Randomized Polypill crossover trial in people aged 50 and over/" by David Wald, Joan Morris, and Nicholas Wald. PLoS One July 18 2012

Tags: Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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