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‘Polypill could avoid millions of heart attacks and strokes’ – experts

Dr Salim Yusuf on how to improve your cardiovascular health

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Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, with 17.9 million lives lost to the deadly conditions yearly. Fortunately, two cardiologists believe that a combination of medications could help avoid millions of premature deaths, triggered by these conditions.

While lifestyle tweaks are one of the most potent weapons when it comes to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, treating these health problems requires something stronger.

Luckily, a combination of medications used for targeting high blood pressure and high cholesterol could prevent millions of premature deaths, heart attacks and strokes each year, according to experts.

In case you’re not aware, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are key culprits that hike your risk of severe health problems, ranging from heart attacks to strokes.

This is where the medication known as polypill steps in with its ability to stave off these severe conditions.

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“Polypill could avoid millions of premature deaths, heart attacks and strokes,” World Heart Federation reported.

The cocktail of drugs used in the single tablet is blood pressure lowering drugs, statins and aspirin – all known for their ability to keep various cardiovascular culprits in check.

The two leading cardiologists suggest that global health has paid a deadly price for not using the “simple” medication.

The experts added that the widespread availability of the drugs would substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and be affordable for most people around the world.

Professor Fausto Pinto, president of the World Heart Federation, said: “Despite substantial scientific evidence of the high effectiveness, safety and affordability of the polypill, few such combined products are available, and in the few countries where they are available, use is low.”

There is currently no polypill licensed on the UK market, according to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Furthermore, the majority of heart attacks and strokes target people who have no prior cardiovascular diseases, which suggests that prevention of a first heart attack or a stroke is essential.

While secondary prevention for people with existing heart diseases is also important, it doesn’t have the same impact, the experts suggest.

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Professor Salim Yusuf, executive director of the Population Health Research Institute and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at McMaster University, said: “The current strategy for primary and secondary prevention of CVD [cardiovascular diseases] has only been modestly successful in most countries, including high-income countries.

“Even in these countries, fewer than half of patients with prior CVD, and fewer than 20 precent without prior CVD, receive effective preventive treatments.”

What’s more, polypill has been studied in independent large studies and trials, highlighting its “life-saving significance”.

Various publications also claim that the little tablet could slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 35 to 50 percent.

“It is time to use the polypill widely to save millions of lives each year,” Professor Pinto added.

The researchers said that large pharmaceutical companies should invest in developing and testing polypills.

They also say the medication should be included on the World Health Organisation’s Essential Medicines List, and that the pill should be dished out with lifestyle advice for prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

The comment is published in The Lancet journal.

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