27/06/2003

‘Miracle’ cardiovascular pill for those over 55

A ‘miracle pill’ could drastically reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack for those aged 55 or over, say researchers.

The proposed ‘polypill’ treatment would combine several commonly used drugs including aspirin, folic acid, and drugs to reduce both cholesterol and blood pressure, to help reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack by up to 80%.

Researchers estimate that some one in three people prescribed the drug cocktail, costing less than a pound a day could benefit by gaining up to 20 years without a stroke or heart attack.

The research team studying the formulation of the pill claim that further research is needed before the pill could be prescribed to patients, but the impact of the pill could be dramatic as the diseases it could potentially counter affect half the British population.

Over 750 trials have been carried out on 400,000 participants, and early indications are that the benefits would substantially outweigh the potential side effects.

The lead researchers Professors Wald and Law said that it was only realised recently just how effective the treatment, which are usually only given to people with overt symptoms of cardiovascular disease, could be.

Further trials of the multiple-drug ‘polypill’ are due to be started. But researchers have warned that the pill should not be viewed as a way to circumvent other important ‘lifestyle’ factors that affect health such as smoking and obesity.

(SP)

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