Daily ‘polypill’ could give 11 years of extra life to the over-50s
19th July 2012
Experts behind a new four-in-one ‘polypill’ claim that the drug could potentially save the lives of 200,000 people every year. The tablet is said to contain three separate blood pressure lowering medications mixed together with a cholesterol-busting statin. Statins are used in conjunction with a healthy diet and work by lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. Many studies conducted this year so far have proven their worth. There have been calls for even ‘healthy’ adults to be given them, as statins such as Crestor may massively benefit them in the future. Therefore, it is no surprise that more research has been carried out into their potential. The new polypill could work-out at costing patients less than £1 per day and there have been claims it can give over 50s the blood pressure and cholesterol readings of somebody in their 20s. This could add on an extra 11 years of living to the average Brit. Analysis of the potential new drug was conducted at Queen Mary, University of London. Researchers decided to use a statin with three already available blood pressure drugs. For the study, 84 people over the age of 50 years old were tested. Patients were assigned either the polypill or a dummy pill, once a day over a three month time period. Therapies were then switched after the three months and patients spent an additional three months taking the other pill. After the six months it was noted that the polypill successfully lowered blood pressure by 12% and LDL cholesterol by 39%. The beneficial effects seen in the therapy has resulted in Dr David Wald, the cardiologist who led the research, calling for the drug to be made available over the counter and without the requirement of a prescription. Dr Wald says, “The health implications of our results are large. If people took the polypill from age 50, an estimated 28% would benefit by avoiding or delaying a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime. On average, those who benefit would gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke. When something like this is developed it should be made available as quickly as possible. How people pay for it is a judgment society needs to make.” His comments for a quick release of the drug have come about after acknowledging it could yet be another 1 to 2 years before the medication has even been given an official approval by health regulators. If you are suffering from high cholesterol then it would be in your interest to act today and not wait the few years it could take for the polypill to possibly be approved. In addition, others have warned for a degree of caution when considering how effective the polypill may be. The British Heart Foundation's senior cardiac nurse, Natasha Stewart, commented, “Research into polypills is encouraging, but there are still many questions to answer before this ‘wonder drug’ is prescribed by doctors. This research only studied a very small number of people, so we'd need to see further large scale trials on a wider population to get more detailed results. However interesting this potential new pill is, medicines are not a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle. Staying active, eating healthily and not smoking are still vital ways to help keep your heart in good shape.” In the UK the average cholesterol reading is 5.8mmol/l, which means that many people are not adhering to Natasha’s advice to stay in ‘good shape’. To put this into context, this is nearly double the average cholesterol reading of the East (e.g. China), and some Brits have much higher readings. This means a large percentage of the population are at risk of heart disease, strokes and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). One of the explanations for the average high reading shown for the UK could be down to the fact there are approximately 10 million adults who are smoking. Quitting smoking can have positive impacts to cholesterol levels and more health conditions such as asthma, etc., as we reported earlier this month. When it comes to your health, the time to act is NOW. Do not wait one or two years for the next ‘miracle’ drug. Medical Specialists Pharmacy provides private and confidential online consultations, and for suitable patients our in-house doctors can prescribe statin medication (Lipitor and Crestor), and our in-house pharmacists can dispense to patients within just 24 hours. We also dispense statins for patients who can provide a private prescription, and have recently introduced the legally available generic Atorvastatin at much lower prices for suitable patients.