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The polypill combines headache, cholesterol and blood pressure medicines, weight alli and cuts the risk of heart attacks and strokes by half, a study reveals.

Around 19 million people worldwide die from cardiovascular diseases every year, while twice as many suffer heart attacks or strokes.

In 80 percent of cases, those with heart problems do not have a history of such illnesses.

That makes preventative strategies such as giving pills to people who do not yet suffer from heart problems all the more important, the researchers said.

Study author Dr Phil Joseph, of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, said: “This combination, either given separately or combined as a polypill, substantially reduces fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease events. The largest effects are seen with treatments that include blood pressure lowering agents, a statin and aspirin, which can reduce fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events by about half.

“The benefits are consistent at different blood pressure levels, but larger benefits may occur in older people.”

Researchers studied 18,000 people and looked at different combinations of pills.

They found giving patients a cocktail of aspirin, statins and at least two blood pressure medications in fixed doses slashed the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In particular, adding aspirin to the mix reduced the risk of patients having a heart attack by 53 percent, stroke by 51 percent, and dying from cardiovascular disease by 49 percent.

Senior author Professor Salim Yusuf said: “These results are huge, and its wide use can avoid between five and 10 million individuals experiencing a stroke, heart attack or dying from these conditions yearly.”

The findings were published in The Lancet journal.

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