Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?

The term "polypill" describes a pill that contains a combination of medicines. The medicines are commonly used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. Healthcare professionals aren't yet sure what the best mix of medicines is for the polypill. It probably will include low doses of these medicines:

  • Aspirin.
  • Cholesterol-lowering medicines called statins.
  • Medicines to make the heart beat with less force.
  • Medicines to lower blood pressure.

The polypill is still being studied. It's not currently available for sale in the United States. But studies suggest that the combined medicine helps people better stick to their treatment. That's probably because it's easier to remember to take one medicine than multiple ones.

The polypill also seems to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Both are risk factors for heart disease. Other areas of research on the polypill show mixed results. Some studies have linked the polypill's use with lower risks of heart attack, stroke and death from such conditions. Other studies didn't find some or any of those possible benefits. More research needs to be done to confirm what the polypill's exact benefits are and who it's safe and effective for.

There is some concern that taking a polypill might have more side effects than when medicines are taken one at a time. But there were low rates of side effects in recent studies of the polypill. Side effects included a cough, muscle aches, dizziness and upset stomach.

One drawback is that the doses of medicine and how often they're taken can't be adjusted in a polypill. A possible fix is to have more than one type of polypill.

Last Updated Apr 12, 2024

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