Friday, April 3, 2009

Just in time for April 1 -The Pollypill

Two days before April fools comes news of a polypill which reduces the chances of “cardiovascular events” (read heart disease ) in healthy people with one “risk factor” for heart disease. The pill contained five different drugs There was aspirin, a cholesterol lowering drug and three drugs used for high blood pressure

The study was done on around 2000 people in India over an 18 month period. The conclusion was that this pill could be “conveniently used to reduce multiple risk factors and cardiovascular risk”

Are you kidding me ? Two days later it could have be put down to an April fools joke. It is hard to know exactly whether this should be taken seriously or not. Firstly there are all the issues to do with statistics and the presentation of medical findings. A drop in rates from 1% to 0.5 % can be presented as a 50%drop in disease rather than a 0.5% drop hence making it sound more impressive

Then there is the small number studied and the short space of time the study ran for. In promoting life long treatment an 18 month trial is meaningless. Most importantly is the confusion of risk factors with actual disease. Reducing” risk factors”, is not the same as reducing disease .This has been well documented The two are in my opinion though, often confused .

Treating risk factors is very popular It is seen as being proactive. It is also potentially life long “treatment “ .However it is essentially reclassifying people with no need for medication into a group of people who” need “medication for the rest of their lives. This is also called the medicalisation of the human condition

Heart disease high blood pressure, stokes and other cardiovascular diseases are largely lifestyle related They are mainly function of our diets weight and physical activity(or lack thereof) This means the solution is not five drugs It means the solution is putting the right fuels into our bodies and regularly moving our bodies. It means carrying the weight the body is designed to rather than an excess

Being on a Mediterranean diet which is high in fruits and vegetables poly unsaturated fats (like olive oil) nuts and unrefined grains and a bit of red wine has a much higher impact on rates of heart disease than any drugs and no side effects .There has even been talk of a polymeal of garlic fish olive oil vegetables blueberries and red wine as a way to reduce heart disease as it has all the right nutrients .This has got to be better than a pollypill

DIY health is all about the things you can do to influence your health now and in the future .Despite our best efforts there may be times when drugs are still needed There is no need for people to take 5 drugs lifelong when change in diet and activity levels would have the same or greater effect

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