Many people with risk factors for heart disease need to take several pills – one (many times several pills needed to get blood pressure controlled) to control their blood pressure, one to control their cholesterol, and an aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Results of an initial study of an experimental polypill were presented at the American College of Cardiology conference this week (results will be published online in the journal Lancet). The polypill actually contains low doses of 3 different blood pressure medications (atenolol, ramipril, and a “water pill” thiazide), plus the generic form of the cholesterol lowering medication Zocor, and low dose aspirin. This would allow patients to take only one pill instead of five pills every day. This study was performed in India and involved over 2,000 patients with at least one risk factor for heart disease. Patients taking the polypill had lowering of their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and effective anti-clotting effects. No increase in side effects was seen, side effects were similar to patients taking the five individual medications. Taking this single polypill could potentially cut a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke in half.
Of course further larger scale studies are warranted and FDA approval (which could take years) needs to be obtained before this combination medication would be available in the U.S. But these are promising initial results and could possibly improve medication compliance.