Leading global heart care from India

In a landscape where the leading causes of deat h have changed dramatically over the past decade, Indian and Australian researchers have a leading role in a series of pivotal global cardiovascular care trials of inexpensive ‘PolyPills’ for the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

The polypill is expected to be substantially cheaper than existing medications to combat cardiovascular problems.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in India, which on average occur at a much younger age, compared with more developed countries. With a population of approximately 1.2 billion that has grown by 181 million in just the last decade, India has no choice but to be as well equipped as possible to deal with the massive impending impact of cardiovascular conditions.

A partnership established in 2003 with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in India saw the development of the polypill. Since then, the treatment has been extensively tested and has been shown to have similar benefits on heart disease risk factors. The next step is to establish if this simple treatment strategy can be maintained better by patients long term and thus produce greater benefits. This is currently underway in India with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, New Delhi as part of a larger international study.

Researchers will address patients who are at a high risk of cardiovascular events and will also assess if patents are sticking to their medication over the long term. “In an area of the world where rates of cardiovascular disease are rapidly increasing, reliable evidence about the effectiveness of new strategies to provide cost-effective preventative therapies to those at greatest risk are urgently required”, said Associate Professor Anushka Patel, Director of The George Institute, India.

Effective preventative treatments are available for patients at high risk of heart attack and stroke, but optimal therapy is often not prescribed and many patients find it difficult to adhere to complex drug regimens, particularly when they have no symptoms. In India, 80% of healthcare is paid out of pocket and the majority of people do not currently have access to cardiovascular drugs.