Studies have shown that the fewer medicines a person has to take the more likely he or she will take them. Last week, a study was released about a new treatment that combines five medicines for heart disease in one pill. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada was the lead investigator. He presented the findings at the American College of Cardiology Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The experimental drug is known as Polycap. It contains aspirin, a drug to lower cholesterol and three medicines to lower blood pressure. The study was carried out at fifty health centers across India. More than two thousand people between the ages of forty-five and eighty took part in the study. All had at least one risk factor for heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or being severely overweight.
The people were divided into nine groups of about two hundred people each. One group took Polycap. The other groups took either a single drug or different combinations of the medicines in the Polycap pill. The study showed that Polycap lowered blood pressure and cholesterol without many side effects. Doctor Yusuf said the single pill, taken once a day, could reduce the average person's risk of heart disease and stroke by about half. The maker of Polycap, Cadila Pharmaceuticals of India, paid for the study.
Cardiovascular diseases of the heart and blood vessels are the number one cause of death around the world. These diseases kill more than seventeen million people every year.
Eighty percent of them are in low and middle income countries. Doctor Yusuf said the single pill treatment could revolutionize heart disease prevention. People would be more likely to take one pill a day than many pills. And one pill would cost less than several pills.
Other heart doctors say heart disease prevention is important but not necessarily with pills. They say patients might be able to get the same results with changes in diet and exercise.
Doctors say that more research on Polycap is needed. They say the drug should be tested on thousands more people, including those in different risk, age and ethnic groups.