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Researchers: 'Polypill' could cut heart attacks, strokes

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Would you take the Polypill?

LONDON, England -- British researchers say a four-part pill containing aspirin, folic acid and other drugs could cut heart attacks and strokes by more than 80 percent.

The "Polypill" -- which would include drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure -- would help prevent disease in the Western world more than any other single treatment, the researchers wrote in the British Medical Journal.

It could largely prevent stroke and heart disease if taken daily by people with cardiovascular problems and those over age 55, according to the study.

Professor Nicholas Wald of the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine in London and Malcolm Law of the University of Auckland in New Zealand set out to determine what combination of drugs and vitamins could help prevent cardiovascular disease with few side effects.

Wald and Law looked at data from 750 trials involving 400,000 people, the UK Press Association said.

They came up with a pill containing six active components -- aspirin, folic acid, a cholesterol-lowering drug and three drugs to lower blood pressure at half the normal dose.

They concluded their Polypill could prevent 88 percent of heart attacks and 80 percent of strokes.

Each part of the pill would reduce one of four cardiovascular risk factors, and about one in three people would directly benefit, with each on average gaining 11-12 years of life without heart attack or stroke.

The researchers said the pill could be taken without the need for a medical examination or any individual measurement of risk factors, adding it was time to end the idea that risk factors needed to be measured and treated individually.

"Instead it should be recognized that in Western society the risk factors are high in us all, so everyone is at risk; that the diseases they cause are common and often fatal; and that there is much to gain and little to lose by the widespread use of these drugs," they wrote.

Trials of the Polypill are now planned to see if the combination is safe and effective, but these could take several years.

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