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Cheap Drug Combo Cuts Heart Attack and Stroke Risk by More Than Half

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:05pm

A cheap combination of three pills helped patients lower their risk of heart attack or stroke by as much as 80% if they took the medicine regularly, according to a study published by doctors from the Kaiser Permanente health plan. Even those who took their pills just half the time were 60% less likely to experience heart attack or stroke, according to a Reuters report, which features comments from the study author.

The doctors used this therapy among diabetic patients aged 55 or older and any patients with coronary artery disease.

The blood pressure medications used were either an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker. The most common set of drugs patients took were lovastatin (40 mg/day), lisinopril (20 mg/day), and a low dose aspirin.  Doctor’s evaluated each patient to make certain that there was no reason they should not be taking any of the prescribed medicines.

Patients taking the “bundle” of cheap meds had a much lower rate of heart attacks and stroke that those who did not.  In their paper, the doctors who did the study argue that these relative cheap old medicines can clearly be extremely effective, and perhaps it’s more important to help patients take their medications regularly, than to try and develop new drugs with slight benefits over the old ones.

We all love the idea of having “wonder drugs” that wipe away our ills, but if we don’t take our medications regularly, how can we expect to get the benefits?

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