Taking blood pressure medication at bedtime, rather than in the morning, lowers the risk of heart attacks and stroke, according to research published in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers from the University of Vigo, in Spain, found that people who took their blood pressure medication at bedtime had better-controlled blood pressure, giving them a 66 per cent lower risk of dying from heart and circulatory conditions. The risk of suffering a heart attack was reduced by 44 per cent, heart failure by 42 per cent, and stroke by 49 per cent.

Their analyses took into account factors that could affect the results, such as age, sex, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, smoking and cholesterol levels.

These findings come from the Hygia Chronotherapy Trial, the largest study to date looking at the effect of the time people take their blood pressure medication on the risk of heart and circulatory diseases.

In the study, 19,084 people of Caucasian Spanish origin were randomly divided into two groups – half took their medication at bedtime and the other half took their medication just after waking up. The researchers then monitored their health for an average of six years, with a 48-hour blood pressure reading taken at least once a year.

Vanessa Smith, British Heart Foundation Senior Cardiac Nurse, said:

“Although this study supports previous findings in this area, further research amongst other ethnic groups and people who work shift patterns would be needed to truly prove if taking blood pressure medication at night is more beneficial for cardiovascular health.

“If you’re currently taking blood pressure medication, it’s important to check with your GP or pharmacist before changing the time you take it. There may be specific reasons why your doctor has prescribed medication in the morning or night.”