A ‘polypill’ made up of a combination of drugs could extend the lives of thousands of patients with coronary heart disease, say researchers at The University of Nottingham.
The study, published in the latest British Medical Journal, found that combinations of cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), aspirin and beta-blockers, which lower blood pressure, improve survival rates in high-risk patients with cardiovascular disease.
However, despite proposals in the past that these drugs, combined into a ‘polypill’ with folic acid, should be given to all patients over the age of 55, the researchers found no evidence that this would be beneficial.
This is the first large-scale, long-term trial to look at the effect of different combinations of drugs to prevent deaths of patients with heart disease.
The study, led by Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox in the University’s Centre for Population Sciences, involved more than 13,000 patients who were diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease between 1996 and 2003.
The combination of statins, aspirin and beta-blockers appeared to improve survival rates most effectively — by 83 per cent. Adding another type of blood pressure lowering drug (an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor) offered no extra benefit. At 19 per cent, beta-blockers alone were the least successful. ACE inhibitors offered just a 20 per cent reduction in risk.
The data came from the QRESEARCH database, run by The University of Nottingham in collaboration with the IT software provider EMIS. QRESEARCH automatically collects real-time data from 500 GP practices (representing around eight million patients) throughout the UK. The system anonymises and uploads practices’ clinical data to a central database.