Taking medication at certain time of day may lower heart attack risk, says new study

Female Care Worker In Uniform Helping Senior Woman At Home In Bed With Medication
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Taking blood pressure medication at a specific time may lower the risk of heart attack in those suffering from hypertension, new research claims.

A new study suggests that a person can benefit from taking such medications in line with their body clock, which notifies you when you should feel hungry, sleepy or awake.

Findings show that subjects who took their medication right when they woke up in the morning were less likely to suffer from the serious condition that causes 7,000 deaths in Scotland each year, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Also called a person's chronotype, a person's body clock can impact how they interact with their blood pressure medication, according to scientists at University of Dundee’s School of Medicine. The research was undertaken in conjunction with Helmholtz Munich and a team of scientists from Italy, the UK and the US.

More than 5,000 people from the Treatment in Morning versus Evening (Time) trial completed an online questionnaire that assessed how their body clock is tuned, with about half respondents stating they take their medication in the morning, and the other half in the evening.

Scientists observed that so-called “morning larks” (earlier chronotypes) who took their prescribed blood pressure medication in the morning were less likely to experience a heart attack than those who were “misaligned” and took it in the evening.

Closeup alarm clock having a good day with background happy woman stretching in bed after waking up, sunlight in morning.
A person's body clock tells them when they should wake up or feel sleepy -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Meanwhile, study participants who were “night owls” (later chronotypes) and took their blood pressure medication in the evening were also less likely to be hospitalised for heart attack when compared to those who took their medication in the morning.

The team concluded that respondents who take their medication during the times which they feel more attuned to could be better protecting their hearts.

Dr Filippo Pigazzani, clinical senior lecturer and honorary consultant cardiologist at Dundee University, said: “These results are exciting because they could represent a paradigm shift in the treatment of hypertension.

“Our research has now shown for the first time that considering chronotype when deciding dosing time of antihypertensives – personalised chronotherapy – could reduce the risk of heart attack. However, before any patients change when they are taking their antihypertensive medications, our findings first need to be confirmed in new randomised clinical trials of personalised chronotherapy.”

Dr Kenneth Dyar, a circadian biologist from Helmholtz Munich, who helped design the study, added: “We all have an internal biological clock which determines our chronotype – whether we are more of a morning or evening person. This internal time is genetically determined and affects biological functions over 24 hours, including gene expression, blood pressure rhythms, and how we respond to medications.

“It’s important for physicians to remember that not all patients are the same. Humans show wide inter-individual differences in their chronotype, and these personal differences are known to affect disease risk”.

High blood pressure (arterial hypertension) has a significant impact on public health. People with hypertension are more likely than the general population to have a heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

The authors of the study have stressed that patients should continue taking their medications in accordance with their physician’s advice.

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