The largest ever analysis on the use of a polypill in cardiovascular disease shows potential for improvements in patient care, researchers said.
Almost 1 in 4 patients adhered better to treatment; significant improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol, they said.
New data presented for the first time at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology 2014 shows a significant improvement in both patient adherence and risk factor control when patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke receive a polypill, compared to usual care.
A polypill is a fixed dose combination of commonly used blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications, along with aspirin, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The Single Pill to Avert Cardiovascular Events (SPACE) project, led by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, analysed data from 3140 patients with established CVD or at high risk of CVD in Europe, India and Australasia.
The results showed a 43 per cent increase in patient adherence to medication at 12 months with the polypill, in addition to corresponding improvements in systolic blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol that were highly statistically significant.
The largest benefits were seen among patients not receiving all recommended medications at baseline, which corresponds to most cardiovascular disease patients globally.
"These results are an important step forward in the polypill journey and management of cardiovascular disease," said Ruth Webster of the George Institute for Global Health.
"An important finding from our analyses is that the greatest benefits from a polypill were for currently untreated individuals," said Webster.
CVD is the number one cause of death globally, killing 17.3 million people each year and it is expected to remain the world's leading cause of death in the near future, researchers said.
"These results emphasise the importance of the polypill as a foundation for a global strategy on cardiovascular disease prevention," Professor Salim Yusuf, President-elect of the World Heart Federation said.
"It will improve patient access to essential medications at an affordable cost and wide use of the polypill can avoid several millions of premature CVD events.
"The polypill is however not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle and should be combined with tobacco avoidance, a healthy diet and enhanced physical activity," said Yusuf.