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The Parts of its Sum

What goes into a Polypill?

By Rachael Moeller Gorman // Winter 2007
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Trials in Australia and New Zealand will test two polypill types and six dosage combinations. Here's a breakdown of one formulation.

Name:

Simvastatin

Dosage:

10, 20, or 40 mg

Function:

Lowers cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-Coa reductase

Benefit:

May reduce heart disease risk by at least 25%

Side Effects:

Rare instances of rhabdomyolysis and liver failure

Names:

Lisinopril & Hydrochlorothiazide

Dosage:

5 or 10 mg & 12.5 mg

Function:

Lisinopril blocks angiotensin in the kidneys, promoting excretion of water and salt. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic that blocks the kidneys from absorbing sodium

Benefit:

Together, may reduce heart attack risk by 15-20%, stroke risk by 40-50%

Side Effects:

Among other effects, adverse levels of potassium and other substances in the blood

Name:

Aspirin

Dosage:

75 mg

Function:

Prevents platelets from forming into clots

Benefit:

Reduces ischemic heart disease events by32% and strokes by 16%

Side Effects:

poses the most serious risks because of hemorrage

Name:

Polypill

Dosage:

Varies

Function:

May lower cardiovascular risks: may reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and inhibit platelet function

Benefit:

May prevent more than 50% of heart attacks and strokes

Side Effects:

Fewer than 5% of trial subjects likely to drop out because of side effects

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The Polypill

A third of the population may benefit from this all-in-one medication. Should everyone else take it too?

Eat, Drink and Be Healthy

Eighteen months after the British Medical Journal launched the Polypill debate, epidemiologist Oscar Franco proposed a “Polymeal.”

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