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Is nighttime the right time to take blood pressure meds?

Two pills and a glass of water on a nightstand. A person asleep in the background.

Nov. 12, 2019—Many, if not most, people take their blood pressure medicine in the morning. But a new, large study suggests that a bedtime pill might be better for your heart health.

Big benefits from a small habit

The study involved over 19,000 people in Spain. It randomly assigned some people to take their blood pressure medicine first thing in the morning, while others took it right before bed. The people were then followed for an average of more than six years. During that time, their blood pressure was checked over a 48-hour period at least once a year.

The researchers found that people who took their medicine at bedtime had nearly half the risk of having, or dying from, a heart attack, a stroke or heart failure—or needing an artery-opening procedure.

Putting a medicine myth to rest

The researchers noted that some doctors may recommend taking medicine in the morning from a mistaken belief that reducing morning blood pressure levels is one of the best ways to reduce overall heart disease risk. But previous research by the same group has shown that blood pressure levels during sleep are a more significant risk factor for heart disease.

By tracking blood pressure around the clock, the researchers were able to show that people who took their medicine at bedtime had significantly lower average blood pressure both at night and during the day.

The study was published in the European Heart Journal.

One limitation of the study is that all people enrolled in it were Caucasian. So future studies are needed to see how it may apply to other ethnicities. It's also not clear how people who work at night and sleep during the day might be affected.

Make the most of your medicine

What exactly is blood pressure anyway? Find out what it means. Then check out these tips on getting more from your heart meds.

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