KUALA LUMPUR, August 23 — A large trial held in Iran of a single inexpensive polypill combining common four drugs has been found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The pill, taken once a day, is a fixed-dose combination of four medications used to lower colesterol and blood pressure. The research found that it has the potential to lower the risk of serious heart problems by more than 30 percent.
Published in the Lancet, this is the first study undertaken by UK, US and Iran researchers looking at the effectiveness of such a formulation, with a large group of people and for a long period of time.
It looked at more than 6,800 participants from Iran aged 50-75 over a period of five years. The study location was an area where 14 and 34 percent of premature deaths are due to strokes and heart disease, respectively.
At the beginning of the study, more than 90 percent did not have any cardiovascular disease. Half of them were given care and lifestyle advice regarding smoking, exercising and diet. The other half, in addition to the same advice, were also given the polypill.
Over the study period, 301 individuals of the former group suffered a major cardiovascular event such as a stroke, heart attack or heart failure. On the other hand, only 202 individuals who took the polypill experienced the same.
Taking into consideration age, sex, diabetes and blood pressure, this meant that there was a 34 percent lower risk for those who took the polypill.
It suggests that two major cardiovascular events could be avoided for every 69 individuals taking the polypill over a period of 5 years.
Researchers indicated that due to the medication costing only a few pence per day, it would be of particular interest and benefit for low and middle income countries looking at cost-effective methods to prevent heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions.