Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A combination of four medications in one pill may provide a less expensive option for people to avoid life-threatening heart problems, new research shows.
The risk of heart attack, strokes and heart failure fell by 34 percent for people who took a combo pill of aspirin, a cholesterol drug and two blood pressure medicines reduced the risk of heart attack, according to a study published earlier this week in The Lancet. The pill is known as polypill.
"This is an important step in the right direction," Salim Yusuf, a researcher at McMaster University in Canada and study author, said in news release. "This could be used in every sensible country where we want to save lives."
The study included roughly 6,800 Iranians from the Golestan province with and without heart problems between ages 50 and 75. These patients are a part of the Golestan Cohort Study, funded by the National Cancer Institute.
All the patients were asked to consume diets with low fat, salt and sugar content. They were also asked to exercise and abstain from smoking and opium.
Half of the patients were prescribed polypills, with the others receiving a non-pharmacological preventive intervention.
Only 6 percent of patients in the pill group had heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke compared to 9 percent from the other group.
While the polypill dropped the risk of heart problems by 34 percent, the risk sat at 22 percent for those who took other heart pills.
The risk was the lowest for patients who took the pill at least 70 percent of the time.
Since the polypill combines medications, it removes the burden of patients having to take multiple drugs each day.
The researchers hope the polypill will bring impoverished communities around the globe a safe, cheap treatment option for treating heart problems.
"The biology is different in different populations, so before we apply it to all of India or all of North Africa, we need to know these polypills are actually safe in these populations," said Amit Khera, who runs the preventive cardiology at Southwestern Medical School.