According to a new study on the so-called Polypill, made of three blood pressure lowering drugs and a cholesterol lowering statin, has found it could delay heart attacks and strokes by 11 years. In a three-month trial at Queen Mary University of London, the pill reduced blood pressure by 12 percent and cut LDL or "bad" cholesterol, by 39 percent. Researchers tell The Telegraph
, that translates into a reduction in heart attacks by almost three-quarters and strokes by two-thirds.
Dr David Wald, the cardiologist who led the research, says, "The health implications of our results are large. If people took the polypill from age 50, an estimated 28 percent would benefit by avoiding or delaying a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime." "On average, those who benefit would gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke.”
Researchers say the polypill should be available over the counter, costing less than a dollar, as soon as possible. Wald tells The Telegraph
, "When something like this is developed it should be made available as quickly as possible. How people pay for it is a judgment society needs to make."
But some warn that more information is needed before dispensing the pills to thousands or millions of people. Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, tells The Independent
, "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."
The study, published in PLoS One
, looked at 84 men and women aged 50 and over. Half were given the polypill and half took a placebo for three months. They then switched treatments for another three months so the effects of both were seen in each patient.
Researchers say the approval process could take about two years.