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Friday, February 03, 2023

Single Pill Proves More Effective at Preventing Further Heart Attack or Stroke

A single pill containing medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and stop clotting is more successful at preventing further cardiac events after a heart attack, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona.

The study found that the pill was more effective at preventing another heart attack or stroke when compared with taking the drugs separately.

Benefits of a polypill

People who have a heart attack are prescribed several drugs, which effectively reduce the risk of another cardiac event. However, some patients do not consistently take all their medications – so it has been proposed that one pill would make it easier for them to adhere to their treatment.

A trial called SECURE enrolled around 2,500 patients within six months of having a heart attack, and then randomly allocated them with either a ‘polypill’ or usual care.

The polypill contained aspirin, a cholesterol-reducing drug called atorvastatin, and ramipril, which lowers blood pressure. Patients who were assigned usual care took all three drugs separately.

Researchers then followed up with the patients after three years. They found that the number of deaths from heart and circulatory conditions, along with the number of further heart attacks or stroke, was lower in the group of patients that had taken the polypill. Patients in the polypill group also had higher levels of adherence compared with those in the usual care group.

Preferred way of giving drugs

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, our Medical Director, said: “After a heart attack, patients are prescribed several different drugs to help prevent another cardiac event.

“However, adherence to taking these tablets may decrease with time, especially if they were not prescribed any medication before.

“This study shows that combining these drugs into a single ‘polypill’ may improve compliance and reduce future events, compared with taking the drugs separately. If these results are confirmed in other studies, a polypill may become the preferred way of giving these drugs to most patients after a heart attack.”

SECURE is the first randomised trial to study the impact of a polypill on recurrent cardiovascular events in heart attack patients. It was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and led by researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares in Madrid.

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