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The polypill, a tablet that contains multiple drugs, is full of treatments to combat high blood pressure and tackle cholesterol. But it can almost halve the risk of heart disease and stroke when taken with aspirin, researchers found. Scientists also said that when taken on its own on a daily basis, the polypill may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by about 20 per cent among those who had no previous incidents but were at intermediate risk.
The team said the findings could help save millions of people from experiencing health problems each year.
Researcher Prem Pais, a professor at St John’s Medical College and Research Institute in Bangalore, India, said: “A polypill is convenient for patients to use as it combines several effective drugs in a single pill and is taken once a day, which would be expected to improve adherence.
“The results of the study have implications for reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases globally.
“Even if only one third of eligible people receive a polypill, its use will likely avoid millions of individuals experiencing serious cardiovascular diseases worldwide.”
The polypill consists of simvastatin, which is used to treat cholesterol, along with ramipril, atenolol and hydrochlorothiazide, which help to reduce high blood pressure.
Researchers recruited 5,714 participants from nine countries, with men aged 50 or older and women 55 or older.
The volunteers were followed for nearly five years.
Among those who continued to take the medications without interruption, the benefits of polypill taken with aspirin were larger and associated with a 40 per cent reduction in risk of cardiovascular events.
Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of deaths globally, taking 18 million lives a year.
The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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