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Taking Blood Pressure Drugs at Bedtime May Boost Effectiveness
Date:10/8/2010

By Julia Vantine
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Taking blood-pressure pills at night, rather than in the morning, may better control hypertension and significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, new research suggests.

The results of the five-year study add to the growing evidence that tailoring the timing and dosage of medications to the body's biological rhythms may help drugs work better and with fewer side effects, the researchers said.

The research also highlighted the importance of sleep-time blood pressure, the most sensitive predictor of a person's risk of death from cardiovascular disease over a five-year period.

In healthy people, blood pressure dips at night, by 10 percent to 20 percent. "Nondippers," whose blood pressure doesn't fall as it should at night, are more vulnerable to cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, the researchers said.

"This study confirms sleep-time blood pressure as the most relevant predictor of cardiovascular risk," said lead researcher Ramon C. Hermida, director of the bioengineering and chronobiology laboratories at the University of Vigo, Spain.

"Sleep-time blood pressure is best reduced when medication is taken at bedtime," Hermida said. "Thus, this effect of the proper timing for dosing seems to be directly related to the documented reduction in cardiovascular events."

For the study, published recently in the journal Chronobiology International, Hermida and his team randomly assigned 2,156 men and women with high blood pressure (average age 56) to one of two treatment groups.

One group took one or more of their blood-pressure medications at bedtime. The other group took all their pills either upon awakening or with breakfast, the recommendation most physicians give their patients.

The researchers monitored the volunteers' blood pressure at 20- and 30-minute intervals, depending on
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