The Benefits of an All-in-One Heart Medication

If the naysayers had their way, we'd still be living in caves, our greatest technological achievement being the mastery of fire. A recent target of the doubting Thomases is the idea of a polypill, the nickname of a heart medication that combines aspirin with a cholesterol buster and blood pressure medicine. Skeptics have claimed that such a heart medication based on several drugs would sock everyone with multiple side effects while curing no one of heart disease, but a recent article published at the end of March in the online edition of the Lancet has shown some promise in proving them wrong.[1] Involving a little more than 2,000 test subjects from across India, the study tested Cadila Pharmaceuticals' Polycap, the most advanced of the polypills, which mixes folic acid, aspirin, Zocor, and three blood pressure meds-atenolol, ramipril, and thiazide. A group of 400 test subjects received the Polycap over the 12-week study, while others were given just one of the drugs or a different combination of the heart medications. The Polycap showed about the same efficacy and chance of side effects as any of the medications that comprise it. The study concluded that the Polycap could lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by 62 percent and 48 percent, respectively, but now a larger study is needed to actually substantiate those numbers, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here are three benefits of an all-in-one heart medication.

It will likely be cheaper. A typical regimen of heart medication will set you back on average $200 a month. Although Cadila Pharmaceuticals has yet to divulge how much it plans to charge for the polypill, the generic ingredients amount to a mere $17 a month and will probably retail for less than that, especially in developing countries.

It will make you feel not only physically fit but also psychologically sound. The idea of taking a multitude of medicines to survive can depress even the cheeriest patient. Boiling those heart medications down to one simple pill could make the situation easier to swallow both figuratively and literally.

It might help heart disease patients stick to their wellness plan. Because the polypill will be less costly and simpler to follow, some are hopeful that this will increase compliance rates among patients who have already suffered one heart attack and need to take heart medication to prevent another.

[1] The Indian Polycap Study (TIPS). Effects of a polypill (Polycap) on risk factors in middle-aged individuals without cardiovascular disease. Lancet 2009; DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60611-5;