According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women around the world.
About 17.9 million people died of heart disease in 2016, accounting for 31% of all deaths worldwide. 85 percent of them are due to heart attacks and strokes.
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During a heart attack, the heart muscle is fighting for adequate blood flow. The more time passes before the river is restored, the greater the potential damage.
Experts often recommend improving general physical health and treating other illnesses to prevent heart attacks and heart disease in general. However, new research suggests that taking a tablet daily can be helpful, especially if you live in a lower income country. In fact, taking a pill daily can even halve the risk of heart attack.
This is from a recent study published in The Lancet, for which researchers have suggested a "fixed-dose combination therapy" or a "polypillosis" to reduce the burden of heart disease in low- and middle-income countries. These pills, the New York Times reported, "contained a cholesterol-lowering statin, two antihypertensive drugs and a low-dose aspirin."
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Many people can not afford or do not care to take so many medicines separately. Therefore, doctors believe that such a drug could do better. A previous study in India has found that it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. The new study is much larger and provides more meaningful evidence as it tracks heart attacks, strokes, and other problems, not just risk factors. The research was funded by the Tehran Medical University, a foundation, and Alborz Darou, the company that produces the polypillen.
Scientists tracked nearly 7,000 rural villagers aged 50 to 75 years in Iran between February 2011 and April 2013, finding that those who regularly took these "polypypes" reduced their risk of heart attack by more than half.
After five years, 6% of people in the pill group had a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure compared to 9% of the others. This resulted in a 34% reduction in polypil risk and a 22% lower risk after investigators considered other heart medications taken by participants. People who took the polypil with the utmost care in at least 70% of cases had an even greater reduction in cardiac risk.
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Although the research is compelling, many medical experts are still concerned about a single-size drug. In more affluent countries, researchers are wondering whether drugs (especially aspirin) should be given to healthy, elderly people. Some cardiologists argue that "aspirin, statins, and blood pressure medicines all have side effects," and "nobody should receive them without first being evaluated for risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history," the Times said.
] The benefits of a polypil for treating heart attack risk can be minimal for people who already have access to good health care.
"However, if you're in a system where people do not have good access, that's a significant advantage," said study author Tom Marshall of the University of Birmingham, UK.
Read the full study at thelancet.com.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.
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