Shared from the 9/22/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition

Combo pill for heart tested

A cheap, daily pill that combines four drugs has been tested for the first time in the United States to see if it works as well among low-income Americans as it has in other countries to treat conditions that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The pill contained low doses of three blood pressure drugs and acholesterol drug.

About 300 people, ages 45 to 75, from a community health center in Mobile, Ala., took part. Half were assigned to take the combo pill. The others continued their usual care.

After a year, the polypill patients had lowered their blood pressure and LDL, or bad cholesterol, by more than the others and by amounts doctors find meaningful.

Polypills aren’t yet available in the United States. Many U.S. doctors have seen little need, preferring to tailor medications individually, said Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Canada, who leads another polypill study expected to finish next year.

The research, paid for by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health, was published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Most of the people in the study made less than $15,000 a year and 96 percent were black. They had at least borderline high blood pressure. People were excluded if their “bad” cholesterol was too high, which would require more aggressive treatment.

Charles Roland, 66, of Prichard, Ala., took the polypill. Remembering one pill was easier than his prior routine of a blood pressure pill in the morning and a cholesterol pill in the evening.

“My blood pressure went way down,” Roland said. “My cholesterol went down and maintained at a consistent level that’s not a threat to my health.”

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