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1 pill for blood pressure and cholesterol treatment

July 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
How about one pill to prevent two major types of heart disease? It's not that far into the future.

Cardiologists say millions of Americans take multiple pills to stay heart-healthy. But what if you didn't have to? British researchers tested a "polypill" consisting of three blood pressure medications and a cholesterol-busting drug: four in one.

In the study, patients taking the polypill experienced a 12-percent drop in their blood pressure and a 39-percent decrease in their bad cholesterol levels.

"If a person is already on medicines equivalent to that, it's a perfect switch to put them on this generic," said cardiologist Dr. Daniel Eisenberg.

Eisenberg says besides saving lives, it would also save a lot of money.

"So what's happening now is a lot of medicines are going generic, meaning they're no longer on patent, meaning they're not as expensive," said Eisenberg.

What about the side effects? Eisenberg says all drugs have them and taking one polypill wouldn't be any different than taking a bunch of different ones.

"The only difference is that you'd have better compliance," said Eisenberg. "People would take the medicines more likely than if they had to think about each different pill they have to take."

Other studies on similar combination therapies show the same beneficial results. But doctors say more research is needed before the polypill can make the jump from the lab to the doctor's office.


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