NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to a survey by Consumer Reports, Americans on average are taking as many as four prescribed medications regularly. But what if treatment for some of the most common conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, was wrapped into one pill?
Cooking up a heart-healthy meal with some whole grains, Omega-3s, and leafy greens, is what 75-year-old Ann Gwin does to keep her heart healthy.
Gwin said, “If you read my medical history, I sound like a train wreck.”
Between her high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, Gwin takes several medications.
Gwin shared, “Some of the pills I take once a day, some I take twice a day, some pills I take two at one time and one at another time. So, it gets a little confusing sometimes.”
Daniel Munoz, MD, a Cardiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center led a study that suggests a single pill containing doses of four medications to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the leading risk factors for strokes and heart attacks, can simplify the lives of those taking medications. It’s called a polypill.
Dr. Munoz said, “if you can just remember to take that one pill a day, it gives somebody a real headstart in trying to achieve a healthy life.”
A trial was conducted with 303 patients. Half of them took a polypill and the other half continued with their usual care. At the end of the trial, the group that took the polypill was able to reduce their blood pressure and cholesterol more than the usual care group.
“We think those translate to about a 25 percent reduction in the risk of experiencing a stroke or a heart attack over the subsequent ten years,” said Dr. Munoz.
Gwin, who currently takes four medications just for her high blood pressure, thinks that’s amazing news.
“Even if he could put some of them together, it would cut down on how many i have to keep track of,” Gwin said.
And keep her health on course.
Dr. Munoz says adherence, or the likelihood that someone will actually take the medication they were prescribed, was high for the polypill group at 86 percent.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Matt and Shay Goldschmidt, Editors.
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BACKGROUND: Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular (blood vessel) diseases are among the leading cause of death and now kill more than 800,000 adults in the US each year. Of these, 150,000 are younger than age 65. These diseases are also two of the leading causes of health disparities in the US. Treatment of these diseases accounts for one in every six US health dollars spent. Two main reasons people have heart disease or stroke are high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are common, deadly, and preventable. Nearly two out of three adults with high cholesterol and about half of adults with high blood pressure don’t have their condition yet under control.
MEDICATIONS: Various medications are used to lower blood cholesterol levels. Statins are recommended for most patients. Statins are the only cholesterol-lowering drug class that has been directly associated with a reduction in the risk of heart attack or stroke. Statins available in the U.S. include Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, Pravastatin, Rosuvastatin Calcium, and Simvastatin. PCSK9 inhibitors bind to and inactivate a protein in liver in order to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. They can be given in combination with a statin. Some names are alirocumab and evolocumab. Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors are most effective at lowering LDL cholesterol. Resins also known as bile acid sequestrants or bile acid-binding drugs, works in the intestines by promoting increased disposal of cholesterol. Resins available in the U.S. include Cholestyramine, Colestipol, and Colesevelam Hcl.
POLYPILL: Suboptimal adherence, which includes failure to initiate pharmacotherapy, to take medications as often as prescribed, and to persist on therapy long-term, is a well-recognized factor contributing to the poor control of blood pressure in hypertension. Daniel Munoz, MD, a Cardiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, “So our study shines light on the very real possibility that the polypill could play a role in how we work to prevent heart disease in this country.”
(Source: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313220 & Daniel Munoz, MD)
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