It’s not uncommon for heart attack survivors to have to take what feels like a handful of pills each day. While vital for their health, these pills can be a bit of a burden—requiring patients to take them at specific times and at a regular schedule to ensure they work effectively.
That’s why the “polypill” has been a goal of drug makers for a while across many different types of aids including HIV/AIDS. However, they haven’t been widely adopted for heart illnesses for a variety of reasons such as efficacy concerns—but some new research might just change that.
In one of the largest studies involving a polypill for heart issues, researchers found that patients who took the polypill were 33 percent less likely to die than control patients from aidments like stroke, heart attacks, and other heart-related illnesses. They also found that those who took the treatment were more likely than others to keep taking it too—which is the entire idea behind the polypill. The results were published August 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The pill, dubbed the Secondary prevention of Cardiovascular disease in the Elderly (SECURE), is a combination of three generic drugs commonly prescribed for heart issues: aspirin, a blood thinner; atorvastatin, a cholesterol drug; and ramipril, a blood pressure drug. 2,499 patients who previously suffered from a heart attack took part in the trial. All participants were over the age of 65 and were tracked over the course of five years.
“The results of the SECURE study show that for the first time that the polypill, which contains aspirin, ramipril, and atorvastatin, achieves clinically relevant reductions in the recurrent cardiovascular events among people who have recovered from a previous heart attack because of better adherence to this simplified approach with a simple polypill, rather than taking them separately as conventional,” Valentin Fuster, a director at Mount Sinai Heart and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
SECURE also goes by Trinoma in some countries, and has already been approved by the EU for use. Now, with the latest findings showing strong results in preventing heart attacks, the polypill might see wider acceptance—and regulatory approval—and places like the US
“By simplifying treatment and improving adherence,” Fuster said, “this approach has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease and death on a global scale.”