'Polypill' Halves Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes, Study Claims

A daily, four-in-one "polypill" can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than half, according to an international study published Thursday.

The first international trial of the pill—which contains aspirin, statins and two blood pressure medicines—resulted in participants experiencing "sizable reductions" in cholesterol and blood pressure, compared to subjects who were given a placebo.

"The results show a halving in heart disease and stroke can be expected for people taking this polypill long term," according to Professor Anthony Rodgers of Australia's George Institute for Global Health, who led the consortium. "We know from other trials that, long term, there would also be a 25 to 50 percent lower death rate from colon cancer, plus reductions in other major cancers, heart failure and renal failure."

Dr. Ted Bianco, director of technology transfer at the London-based Wellcome Trust, which helped fund the study, said that "few of us would dissent from the view that prevention is better than cure in most matters medical. It is good news indeed to see the evidence base grow for the potential use of a new generation of combination products as a safe and affordable option in the battle against heart attack and stroke."

The polypill was tested over 12 weeks on 378 people in Britain, Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the US. The results of the study were published in the Public Library of Science ONE.