Melbourne (May 2014) New data presented for the first time at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology 2014 shows a significant improvement in both patient adherence and risk factor control when patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke receive a polypill, compared to usual care. A polypill is a fixed dose combination of commonly-used blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications, along with aspirin, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The Single Pill to Avert Cardiovascular Events (SPACE) project, led by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, analysed data from 3140 patients with established CVD or at high risk of CVD in Europe, India and Australasia. The results showed a 43 per cent increase in patient adherence to medication at 12 months with the polypill, in addition to corresponding improvements in systolic blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol that were highly statistically significant. The largest benefits were seen among patients not receiving all recommended medications at baseline, which corresponds to most cardiovascular disease patients globally.
"These results are an important step forward in the polypill journey and management of cardiovascular disease", commented Ruth Webster of the George Institute for Global Health, Sydney. "Most patients globally either don't start or don't continue taking all the medications they need, which can lead to untimely death or further CVD events. An important finding from our analyses is that the greatest benefits from a polypill were for currently untreated individuals. Although the idea of a polypill has always been appealing, we now have the most comprehensive real-world analysis to date of this treatment strategy in high risk CVD patients. Given the potential affordability, even in low income countries, there is considerable potential to improve global health."
CVD is the number one cause of death globally, killing 17.3 million people each year and it is expected to remain the world's leading cause of death in the near future. Access to effective treatment like polypills can play a key part in achieving the bold World Health Organization (WHO) target of at least a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025, especially as a polypill can be cheaper than several individual drugs.
Professor Salim Yusuf, President-elect of the World Heart Federation said: "These results emphasize the importance of the polypill as a foundation for a global strategy on cardiovascular disease prevention. It will improve patient access to essential medications at an affordable cost and wide use of the polypill can avoid several millions of premature CVD events. The polypill is however not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle and should be combined with tobacco avoidance, a healthy diet and enhanced physical activity. This broad strategy, if adopted widely, can reduce cardiovascular disease to a large extent."
SPACE combined results from three clinical studies which took place from 2009 - 2013: UMPIRE (Europe and India), Kanyini-GAP (Australia) and IMPACT (New Zealand). Importantly, in the Australasian trials, half the patients were indigenous. Further analysis of this unique data source is underway to investigate the effect of the polypill on major patient groups and the results of this are expected over the coming year.
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About the World Congress of Cardiology (WCC)
The World Congress of Cardiology is the official congress of the World Heart Federation and is held every two years. The congress brings together thousands of cardiologists and other healthcare professionals from around the world, and represents an important forum for discussing all aspects of prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. WCC 2014 is taking place in Melbourne, Australia from 4-7 May 2014 and is co-hosted by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.
About the World Heart Federation
The World Heart Federation is the only global advocacy and leadership organization bringing together the cardiovascular disease (CVD) community to help people everywhere lead heart-healthy lives. We strive for a world where there are at least 25% fewer premature deaths from CVD by 2025.
That's why we and our 200+ members work courageously to end needless deaths from exposure to tobacco and other risk factors, lack of access to treatment, and neglected conditions like rheumatic heart disease which kills hundreds of thousands of children each year. Across 100 countries, with its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle CVD- the world's number one killer. World Heart Federation is at the heart of driving the CVD agenda and advocating for better heart health - enabling people to live longer, better and more heart healthy lives whoever and wherever they are.
About The George Institute
The George Institute for Global Health is improving the lives of millions of people worldwide through innovative health research. Working across a broad health landscape, the Institute conducts clinical, population and health system research aimed at changing health practice and policy worldwide. The Institute has a global network of medical and health experts working together to address the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Established in Australia and affiliated with The University of Sydney, the Institute today also has offices in China, India and the United Kingdom, and is also affiliated with Peking University Health Science Centre, the University of Hyderabad and the University of Oxford.