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Polypill 'cuts heart disease risk'

Patients who take a 'polypill' can reduce their risk of suffering from heart disease and strokes by 50%, a new trial has revealed.

Researchers discovered the results during the world's first international study of the four-in-one drug, which is made up of aspirin and chemicals to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The normal course of treatment for cutting the risks of heart attacks and strokes is by prescribing separate pills, which are already being taken by millions of people worldwide.

But scientists have been conducting research for a long time into whether a combined pill could be used, with some claiming that everyone aged over 55 should take itP.

In the latest study, published in the journal Public Library of Science One, experts tested the pill in 378 people who did not already need any of its components, but who had more than a 7.5% estimated risk of cardiovascular disease.

The drug contained 75 mg of aspirin, the two blood pressure drugs lisinopril (10 mg) and hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 mg), and 20 mg of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin.

The participants came from the UK, Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, The Netherlands, and the US.

Twelve weeks after the start of the study, experts analysed the effect of the drug on blood pressure, cholesterol and how well it was tolerated.

The drugs did cause side-effects, including stomach irritation and coughs, in about one in six people.

Overall, about one in 20 people stopped the treatment due to side effects, suggesting the drug may be best targeted at those with the highest risk of disease.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Public Library of Science One