Heart disease patients more apt to take one combined pill than many

People stayed on top of their medications better with a 'polypill'

A single pill that combines medicines to tone down blood pressure, cholesterol and blood clotting improves the likelihood that patients will take their meds. The “polypill” might boost the health of people who otherwise might skip taking pills, researchers report in the Sept. 4 JAMA.

For patients who must manage a bagful of heart meds, the polypill sounds great. But the concept had previously undergone only limited testing. In the study, 2,004 people in Europe and India who had heart disease or were at risk of developing it were randomly assigned to get standard pills for the three conditions or a daily polypill.

The polypill included aspirin for blood clots, simvastatin (Zocor) for high cholesterol and two blood pressure medications. Over 15 months, 86 percent of the people assigned to get the polypill kept up with their medications while only 65 percent of the others did. In people who had previously had trouble taking their pills regularly, the polypill provided a sharp improvement – 77 percent instead of 23 percent took their medicines.

Overall, the polypill group also had slight declines in systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol compared to those getting pills piecemeal.

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