Image via BBC News It won't replace good diet and an exercise routine, but it can do the work of five
other pills to ward off heart disease and other life threatening diseases caused by high
blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet, not so fast...
Varieties of the "polypill" have been undergoing clinical research
for several years but, for some reason (you can speculate on that), progress
on the development was "mooted" more than five years ago. However, recent
clinical trials in India
have renewed interest in a preventive pill to guard against diseases that
evolve from high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The Indian study used five active, widely available, pharmaceuticals in its
polypill: aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering statin, three different blood
pressure-lowering drugs, plus folic acid. The pill used, a "Polycap"
made by Cadila Pharmaceuticals, could potentially cut the incidence of strokes and heart
attacks in middle-aged people in half; and, on a global scale, save millions of lives.
The 2,053 people studied did not have heart disease, but had one
"warning" factor in their histories; high cholesterol, high blood
pressure, smoking, family history... Taking the tablet resulted in almost
universal lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure measurements in the group.
Researchers, still hesitant to propose the polypill, say more research is
needed, particularly in the area of mortality, and that any polypill would not
be available to the public for at least five years. Representative
spokespersons from various health and disease organizations interviewed by BBC News were very
cautious in their comments, stating warnings such as, "Eating
healthily and taking regular exercise are proven ways to lower high blood
pressure - and have many other health benefits too - and there is a danger that
these lifestyle factors could be overlooked in favour of 'popping a
I don't know about you, but I think I could be trusted to take a pill and
eat right and exercise.