A team of Australian researchers led by Professor Christopher Reid from Curtin University and Mr John Varigos from Monash University has proved a combination of inexpensive drugs are effective in reducing heart attacks and stroke by nearly 30 per cent.
Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation-3 – or HOPE-3 – involved more than 12,000 participants in 21 countries in three studies which examined the effectiveness of statins (which lower cholesterol) combined with anti-hypertensives (which lower blood pressure) in preventing heart attack, stroke and death.
Results showed patients at intermediate risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) such as heart attacks and strokes, who combined the use of statin and anti-hypertensive drugs saw a significant reduction in CVD events.
Professor Reid said men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 60 who exhibit one other contributing factor, such as being overweight, smoking or diabetes, are considered to be at an intermediate risk of having CVD.
“The findings could significantly reduce the risk of CVD for many Australians and reduce the pressure it places on the health system,” Professor Reid said.
“Historically, being able to identify major contributors to cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or diabetes, has enabled us to drastically reduce the risk of death or disability.
“The results of this research mean we have been able to identify yet another avenue to reduce the chances of people having a heart attack or stroke, which the World Health Organization lists as the leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in developing economies.”
Professor Reid said the results encourage conversations concerning the use of drugs in preventative treatment of patients, as well as avenues for future research into innovations such as ‘polypills’, which are a single pill containing many medications.
“There are still many aspects to consider as we continue to research ways to reduce the chances of people experiencing a CVD event, however the results of these studies offer a promising entry point into the next stages,” Professor Reid said.
The results of this research are detailed in three papers recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine and can be accessed via http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1603504.