Salim Yusuf, Ph.D.
Salim Yusuf, Ph.D.

Taking a combo heart health drug, plus aspirin, leads to fewer cardiovascular events in people at intermediate risk when compared with placebo, a new study has found. 

Investigators followed about 5,700 participants without cardiovascular disease but who had elevated risk. Some were given a daily combination pill comprising statins and multiple blood-pressure–lowering drugs, either with aspirin or without aspirin. Daily aspirin alone was also tested against a placebo group.

The polypill contained 40 mg of simvastatin, 100 mg of atenolol, 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide and 10 mg of ramipril. During a mean follow-up of 4.6 years, people in the polypill-plus-aspirin comparison group were significantly less likely to experience death from cardiovascular causes, heart attack, stroke, resuscitated cardiac arrest, heart failure or revascularization.

In addition, participants in the polypill-alone group showed a trend toward heart risk benefits. But the aspirin-only comparison group had no significant difference in death from cardiovascular causes, heart attack or stroke, reported Salim Yusuf, Ph.D., of McMaster University,Hamilton, Ontario.

Notably, the incidence of hypotension or dizziness was 1.5% higher in the polypill groups versus their respective placebo groups, the researchers found. This problem was addressed by lowering the polypill dose, they said.

Doctors have been testing inexpensive combination pills for more than a decade, and some currently are sold by companies outside the United States, reported STAT. The new study is the first to show their value, U.S. physicians told the news outlet. 

Full findings were published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.