Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A triple pill of different medications lowered blood pressure in a significant number of clinical study participants in Sri Lanka.
In a trial conducted by The George Institute for Global Health in Australia, 70 percent of the participants reached blood pressure targets safely with the pill, compared to 55 percent receiving normal treatment. The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medication Association.
"It's estimated more than a billion people globally suffer from high blood pressure with the vast majority having poorly controlled blood pressure," Dr. Ruth Webster, of The George Institute for Global Health, said in a press release. "Our results could help millions of people globally reduce their blood pressure and reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke."
They gave patients with hypertension three drugs -- telmisartan, amlodipine and chlorthalidone -- each at half a dose in a single pill.
Patients traditionally begin treatment with one drug at a very low dose and then it is increased with additional drugs added and increased in dosage.
"Patients are brought back at frequent intervals to see if they are meeting their targets with multiple visits required to tailor their treatments and dosage," Webster said. "This is not only time inefficient, it's costly. We also know that many doctors and patients find it too complicated and often don't stick to the process."
Starting in 2014, the researchers recruited 700 patients at 11 health centers with an average age of 56 and blood pressure of 154/90 mm Hg. They were given telmisartan at 20 mg, amlodipine at 2.5 mg and chlorthalidone at 12.5 mg.
The researchers found a significantly higher proportion of patients receiving the triple pill achieved their target blood pressure of 140/90 or less, with lower targets of 130/80 for patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
At six months, 83 percent of participants were still receiving the combination pill. The majority of patients in the usual-care group still received only one drug, although about one-third received two or more blood-pressure-lowering drugs.
The George Institute is examining the acceptability of the triple bill approach to patients and their doctors.
In 2012, the World Heart Federation set a goal of 25 percent reduction in premature deaths from cardiovascular disease by 2025. CVD accounts for 31 percent of global deaths -- 17.5 million people -- each year, according to the federation.
"The triple pill could be a low cost way of helping countries around the world to meet this target," said Dr. Anushka Patel, principal Investigator of the trial and chief scientist at The George Institute.