Do polypills lead to neglect of lifestyle risk factors? Findings from an individual participant data meta-analysis among 3140 patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease

Vanessa Selak, Chris Bullen, Sandrine Stepien, Bruce Arroll, Michiel L. Bots, Dale Bramley, Alan Cass, Diederick Grobbee, Graham S. Hillis, Barbara Molanus, Bruce Neal, Anushka Patel, Natasha Rafter, Anthony Rodgers, Simon A McG Thom, Andrew Tonkin, Tim Usherwood, Angela K Wadham, Ruth Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Aim The aim of this study was to investigate whether polypill-based care for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with a change in lifestyle risk factors when compared with usual care, among patients with CVD or high calculated cardiovascular risk. Methods We conducted an individual participant data meta-analysis of three trials including patients from Australia, England, India, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand that compared a strategy using a polypill containing aspirin, statin and antihypertensive therapy with usual care in patients with a prior CVD event or who were at high risk of their first event. Analyses investigated any differential effect on anthropometric measures and self-reported lifestyle behaviours. Results Among 3140 patients (75% male, mean age 62 years and 76% with a prior CVD event) there was no difference in lifestyle risk factors in those randomised to polypill-based care compared with usual care over a median of 15 months, either across all participants combined, or in a range of subgroups. Furthermore, narrow confidence intervals (CIs) excluded any major effect; for example differences between the groups in body mass index was -0.1 (95% CI -0.2 to 0.1) kg/m2, in weekly duration of moderate intensity physical activity was -2 (-26 to 23) minutes and the proportion of smokers was 16% vs 17% (RR 0.98, 0.84 to 1.15) at the end of trial. Discussion This analysis allays concern that polypill-based care may lead to neglect of lifestyle risk factors, at least among high-risk patients. Maximally effective preventive approaches should address lifestyle factors alongside pharmaceutical interventions, as recommended by major international guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-1400
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • fixed dose combination
  • lifestyle factors
  • meta-analysis
  • Polypill
  • risk factors

Cite this