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.