The “Quadpill”: Westmead Health Precinct heart research finds more effective treatment for high blood pressure

Westmead Hospital cardiologist Professor Clara Chow led the study.

New research from Westmead Health Precinct has found that high blood pressure can be safely and more effectively controlled using a combination of four different existing medications in a ‘quadpill’.

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is the number one cause of the world’s leading killers: heart attack and stroke. It affects almost one third of Australians and most struggle to control the condition.

Results of the first-of-its-kind trial – published in The Lancet and presented to the world-leading European Society of Cardiology conference – showed the novel combination ‘quadpill’ approach is safe and much more effective in getting blood pressure under control, compared to the usual practice of starting treatment with just one drug.

“Commonly when you’ve got high blood pressure, you come to the doctor, they start you on one medicine, that doesn’t achieve blood pressure control, you then start on another medicine, that doesn’t achieve blood pressure control, you start on another medicine,” Westmead Hospital cardiologist Professor Clara Chow explained.

The study was featured on 9 News.

Nearly 600 Australians were involved in the randomised, controlled clinical trial, and 80 per cent on the novel combination medication brought blood pressure under control in 12 weeks, compared to 60 percent in the control group who still had access to the best patient care.

“Each of the four medicines do act differently to lower blood pressure,” Professor Chow said.

“Even after 12 months, there was still that difference. 80 per cent in the quadpill versus 60 per cent in the control.”

Professor Chow said with the right support, the findings could have worldwide implications.

“High blood pressure is the leading cause of preventable deaths globally – we hope our world-leading findings will be translated swiftly into a product available for the general public.

Professor Clara Chow

“These kinds of strategies will only make a major impact on global health if they are available and affordable for patients most in need.”

The symptoms of severe high blood pressure include headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pain, and they require immediate medical attention.

Many people experience no symptoms for decades. Have a doctor check your blood pressure at least once a year, and at least twice a year if you are overweight or have a family history of heart disease.

The Lancet paper was led by the University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, with co-authors including The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW Sydney and Imperial College London, University of Western Australia, University of Tasmania, Western Sydney University, UTS Sydney, Monash University and Curtin University.

WARC was established by the University of Sydney in collaboration with Western Sydney Local Health District, specifically to address the causes of chronic disease, with a focus on translational research that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of patients in western Sydney.