Testing Blanket Blood Pressure Medication in Older People

What happens if everyone in later years regularly takes common blood pressure and cholesterol medications, even if healthy? Researchers have been running trials: "Results of a randomised trial [show] that a four-component Polypill given to people aged 50 and over to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, the most common causes of death worldwide, achieved large reductions in blood cholesterol and blood pressure, the main causes of these two diseases. ... The results observed in the trials had been accurately predicted in an earlier paper [before] any Polypill had been made. The Polypill, a tri-layered tablet, contains three blood pressure lowering medicines and a statin for lowering cholesterol. This was given to people without a history of cardiovascular disease aged 50 or more. They experienced a 12 percent reduction in blood pressure and a 39 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol (the 'harmful' cholesterol), achieving levels typical of people aged 20 years. ... The health implications of our results are large. If people took the Polypill from age 50, an estimated 28 percent would benefit by avoiding or delaying a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime; on average, those who benefit would gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke. ... This is the first trial in people selected on the basis of age alone without the need for a medical examination or tests - setting the scene for the prevention of first heart attacks and strokes in the general population without requiring a medical examination or special tests. ... Our trial shows that the predicted effects of the Polypill can be achieved in practice. The expected impact on preventing what is now the world's leading cause of death is large - about a two-thirds reduction in heart attacks and strokes."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/qmuo-fpt071712.php

Comments

This doesn't strike me as terribly interesting. They administered drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and the result was...lowered blood pressure and cholesterol. As far as I can tell, the claims of reduced cardiovascular events are purely speculative.

Posted by: Brandon Berg at July 19th, 2012 10:48 AM

There is a difference between lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and living longer. The interesting question is the overall health and longevity of the two different groups especially when original blood pressure and cholesterol are matched.

Other key questions not asked, relate to supplements. People who have normal blood pressure and cholesterol who take supplements could live much longer. Similarly, people who take BP medicine and statins with CoQ10 could live much longer. Too many variables to draw any conclusions from the results, other than that BP medicine lowers BP and cholesterol medicine lowers cholesterol.

Posted by: Carol at July 24th, 2012 1:56 PM

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