One pill for several ailments

Life & Health

Cooking up a heart-healthy meal with some whole grains, omega-3s, and leafy greens, is what 75-year-old Ann Gwin does to keep her heart healthy.

She says, “If you read my medical history, I sound like a train wreck.”

Between her high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, Ann takes several medications.

She adds, “Some of the pills I take once a day, some I take twice a day, some pills I take two at one time and one at another time. So it gets a little confusing sometimes.”

Doctor Daniel Munoz is a cardiologist who led a study that suggests a single pill containing doses of four medications to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the leading risk factors for strokes and heart attacks, can simplify the lives of those taking medications. It’s called a polypill.

Dr. Munoz with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, “If you can just remember to take that one pill a day, it gives somebody a real head start in trying to achieve a healthy life.”

A trial was conducted with 303 patients. Half of them took a polypill and the other half continued with their usual care.

At the end of the trial, the group that took the polypill was able to reduce their blood pressure and cholesterol more than the usual care group.

Dr. Munoz says, “We think those translate to about a 25 percent reduction in the risk of experiencing a stroke or a heart attack over the subsequent ten years.”

Ann, who currently takes four medications just for her high blood pressure, thinks that’s amazing news.

She says, “Even if he could put some of them together, it would cut down on how many I have to keep track of.”

And keep her health on course.

Dr. Munoz says adherence, or the likelihood that someone will actually take the medication they were prescribed, was high for the polypill group at 86 percent.

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