The PolyPill

"The case for the polypill is straightforward as presented by Nicholas Wald, head of the Department of Environmental and Preventive Medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, and his associate Malcolm Law in a recent article in the British Medical Journal.  Heart attacks and strokes kill 2.5 million people in the United States and Western Europe every year, and they diminish the quality of life for many more who survive them. Reduce those numbers, and you can both extend and improve many people’s lives. Based on an analysis of 750 clinical trials and cohort studies involving 400,000 patients, the authors reckon that a combination of six drugs would do it.

Dr. Wald and Dr. Law’s polypill’s ingredients are all well known and available generically: aspirin, folic acid, a cholesterol-lowering statin, and three blood pressure drugs at half doses…If everyone started to take it at the age of 55, says Dr. Wald, the polypill would “have a greater impact on the prevention of disease in the Western world than any other single intervention."

Jeff Miller, A Preventive Cocktail: Take one a week and call back when you’re 90. Acumen Journal of Life Sciences, Jan-Feb 2004. (full text for subscribers only).  Be sure to check out the rapid responses and letters regarding Wald’s original article in the BMJ.

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