Dr Boyle hinted that anti-clotting 'super-aspirins' could shortly be approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

The drugs are used quite frequently in western Europe to help patients whose arteries are partially blocked by clots.

Research on one such drug, Tirofiban, has been shown to prevent further heart attacks and could save 2,000 lives a year, according to Dr Marcus Flather, Professor Jennifer Adgey and colleagues at Royal Brompton Hospital.

Dr Flather said the£27m cost to the NHS of the drug in high-risk patients was 'the same as the pay-off for five Marks and Spencer chief executives'.