1. Polypill fails heart test

    'Polypill' heart drug falls short where it matters most

    Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the biggest test of a drug is how well it works, and whether or not the benefits are worth the risks -- not how easy it is to take.

    But the latest heart pill, the polypill, is making its way to a pharmacy near you right now. It's being hailed as "the next big thing" not because it's effective, and not because it's safe.

    No, it's actually proven to be neither -- but it's being pushed by the mainstream anyway because it's so easy to take.

    The pollypill is a single pill that contains four drugs: a statin (with potential muscle pain, diabetes, memory loss and more), aspirin (with potential serious internal bleeding problems) and two different hypertension meds (with more potential risks than I can even list here).

    How well does it work? Well... your doctor would rather you not ask that question. All he wants to talk about is how much better it is to swallow one pill instead of four pills.

    And in that sense, the drug "works" beautifully, as new research shows that seniors given the polypill are much more likely to take all their meds -- three times more likely, in the case of seniors most prone to skipping doses.

    But let's get back to that nagging question your doctor doesn't want to have to answer -- the one thing he almost certainly won't talk about once the polypill is approved and he delivers the big sales pitch (complete with free samples, no doubt).

    Does it work?

    In a word, no -- because the same study finds no improvements at all by the two most important measures: no reduction in heart attack risk, and no improvement in stroke risk.


    And if a heart drug fails to deliver in these two key areas, then it doesn't matter how easy it is to take -- it's not worth taking, plain and simple.

    Fortunately, there's a better way to protect your heart -- safe, natural and (most importantly) effective treatments that can reduce your risk of a heart attack and stroke whether you've already had one, or just want to make sure you never suffer one.

    Like, for example, making yourself "stroke proof" with the simple and delicious diet that I told you about recently. (Missed it? Catch up here.) Or there's the mega mineral secret that can slash your heart risk by 30 percent. Read all about it here.

    In many cases, these natural solutions can help you to reduce the number of meds you take or even eliminate them entirely -- and that's the best way of all to make it easier to take your medicine.

    A holistic physician can help get you started.

  2. Polypill madness strikes again

    Supersizing might be on the outs when it comes to fast food -- but it's all the rage in the drug industry.

    And right now, researchers are busily testing the limits of the ultimate in supersized meds: A drug that combines FOUR different pills in one, giving you a chance to swallow once... and experience side effects in four different ways.

    Would you like statins with that?

    The drug is called a polypill, and the latest version combines a cholesterol-lowering statin with two blood pressure meds -- along with some aspirin, just for good measure.

    The latest study claims this pill can slash the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent -- but if you read the fine print, you'll find it's not a claim backed up by the study itself.

    In fact, none of the patients in the study dodged heart disease or strokes... or maybe you could say all of them did.

    Since the study lasted just 12 weeks, either statement could be equally true.

    Let me explain. The researchers gave 378 people between the ages of 50 and 70 either a polypill or a placebo. Then, they compared before-and-after readings for cholesterol and blood pressure.

    When they found a 9.9 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 0.8 mmol/L average reduction in LDL ("bad") cholesterol among patients who took the polypill, the researchers declared victory and went home.

    But while no real lives were saved in this brief study, 58 percent of the people who took the polypill experienced very real side effects -- and 23 percent had to quit because they couldn't handle them, according to the details published in PLoS One.

    You don't have to test your own tolerance for those side effects -- because you don't need a polypill or even the individual drugs found inside it.

    The truth is, both cholesterol and blood pressure can be brought under control through lifestyle changes -- and in many cases, they don't even have to be dramatic changes.

    A study last year, for example, found that a handful of nuts a day lowered LDL levels by an average of 7.4 percent.

    On a similar note, other studies have identified common, healthy ingredients -- like oatmeal and cinnamon -- that can slash your BP levels.

    For more tips on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels without drugs, visit the Web site of the Health Sciences Institute, where you'll find an extensive online library of natural treatments for any number of conditions.

    And some of them are pretty tasty.

  3. Big Pharma "polypill" could be five problems in one

    Posted by: on
    Some folks seem to think the idea of replacing five drugs you don't need with a single wonder-pill is cause for celebration.

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