A polypill containing four different medicines was found to significantly lower both blood pressure and cholesterol in patients with no history of heart disease, a UK study has found.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London gave the pill containing the four generic heart drugs - amlodipine 2.5mg, losartan 25mg, hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg and simvastatin 40mg - to patients aged 50 years and over with no prior history of heart disease for a total of 12 weeks.

The results, published in PLoS One, showed that the pill - manufactured by India's Cipla - cut the mean systolic blood pressure by 12%, diastolic blood pressure by 11% and LDL cholesterol by 39%. 

The findings suggest that thousands of lives could potentially be saved by dishing out the polypill to everyone over the age of 50, given that, "the predicted effect in reducing ischaemic heart disease events is 72% and in reducing stroke is 64%", the researchers note.

"This Polypill, designed principally for primary prevention, therefore has considerable potential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease", they conclude.

However, those opposed to medicating the 'well' may argue that such a strategy could interfere with encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles by making them too reliant on pills alone for good health.

11 extra years

Nevertheless, lead researcher David Wald has said that, on average, those who could benefit from the pill would "gain 11 years of life without a heart attack or stroke", and he stressed that it be approved for over-the-counter sale "without delay", The Telegraph reported.

Large-scale trials of the pill are being carried out in India, which could generate the data necessary for approval in the UK and Europe, according to Reuters.