The polypill: a magic bullet against cardiovascular disease?
Promising in high risk populations, but perhaps not
- By: Emma Wallace, Tom Fahey
- Published: 01 October 2012
- DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e6386
- Cite this as: Student BMJ 2012;20:e6386
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality in developed countries, and has been described as a “global epidemic.”1 In 2003, Wald and Law proposed a new polypill: six drugs combined into one tablet that would work to reduce cardiovascular risk. They proposed the polypill as a way of targeting modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, both for adults with pre-existing cardiovascular disease (secondary prevention) and, more controversially, for adults over 55 years old without cardiovascular disease (primary prevention).2
Wald and Law argued that over 80% of myocardial infarctions and strokes could be prevented if this strategy was adopted. The polypill would contain six ingredients: three blood pressure lowering drugs (a thiazide diuretic, a β blocker, and an angiotension converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor), a statin, aspirin, and folic acid. Their idea ignited great debate in the medical community regarding its potential to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease. The polypill has