Their crossover trial looked at 84 participants aged 50 or over with no history of cardiovascular disease, who were taking simvastatin and blood pressure-lowering medications.
These medications were stopped and the patients were instructed to take a polypill for 12 weeks and a placebo for the same time period. The order in which each of these was taken was decided randomly, with blood pressure and lipid measurements taken at the end of each 12-week period.
The polypill contained three blood pressure lowering drugs – amlodipine 2.5mg, losartan 25mg, hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg – and simvastatin 40mg.
Compared with placebo, mean systolic blood pressure was reduced by 17.9mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 9.8mmHg with the polypill. In addition, there was a 39% reduction in LDL-cholesterol, corresponding to a decrease of 1.4mmol/l.
The researchers from Barts and the London School of Medicine, London, said: ‘Given the observed LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure reductions, the predicted effect in reducing ischaemic heart disease events is 72% based on evidence of the quantitative relationship between the two risk factors and risk.
‘The polypill therefore has considerable potential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.’