Polypill or Pollyanna?

Can combining five heart medications into one pill lower the risk for heart disease and stroke as well as taking them separately? What about potential side effects?

It's called a "Polypill", a combination of aspirin, a statin and three blood pressure drugs.

Researchers in Canada and India studied over two-thousand adults with at least one risk factor for heart disease, like high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, diabetes or smoking.

Two hundred people took a polypill and the rest took the individual drugs at various doses.

They found that those taking the polypill had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels after 12 weeks.

"We have a history in this country of not loving combination pills. But because these are so low dose and such well-known medications, I think alot of people are excited about this. If you can put it in one pill, keep the cost low and really prevent deaths like they've shown in this study...it's pretty cool", says Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News Chief Medical Editor

Dr. Snyderman also believes the pill is a few years from being sold to consumers, as phased clinical trials need to be performed in the U.S.

Experts also say that patients are less likely to stick to their medications when there are many, so combining them all into one pill would significantly increase their benefit.

The study was conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario and St. John's Medical College In India. 

The results were presented March 30 at the American College of Cardiology conference in Orlando, FL.

Contact Us