Millions of heart disease sufferers around the world are prescribed vital medication to treat their condition, and keep it under control. Yet how many people actually give a thought to the significance of the daily timing of taking their medicine, and the effect it could have on their condition ?
You are Three Times More Likely to have a Heart Attack in the Early Morning
A newly published study from the United States in March 2012, using mice, seems to indicate that it may have a significant effect. The study, published in the Medical Journal ‘Nature’ examines and investigates the evidence that confirms that heart problems such as Arrhythmia, Stroke, and Heart Attack are more commonly experienced in the early morning hours.
The key reason behind this may lie in the body’s internal rhythm clock, known as the Circadian Rhythm, which runs a kind of internal 24 hour timer system. It is controlled from a special gland within the brain called the Hypothalamus gland, and it is this gland that controls many essential bodily functions, including blood pressure, amongst others.
It has long been observed and recorded that heart attacks and strokes are much more likely to occur in the morning – evidence suggests up to three times more likely, but until recently it has not been fully understood why. However the most recent study, carried out by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio has identified a type of protein within the body, code named KLF-15, that appears to be a key factor in controlling heart rate.
Levels of this protein fluctuate on a 24 hour cyclical basis, and have a direct impact on the pulse rate, and the blood pressure. The outworking of this is that during the periods when the heart is beating more slowly, i.e. in the early morning hours, the heart is more likely to suffer a heart attack. So now that we understand a little more about why you are more likely to suffer a heart in the morning – what time of day is it best to take your heart and blood pressure medication ??
Best time of day to take High Blood Pressure Medication
All people with normal heart health experience a drop in blood pressure during the night. This can vary from 10% to 20% depending on the individual. The problem for people suffering from high blood pressure is that their blood pressure does not drop at all at night, or by a lesser amount. This is why they are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems.
A separate scientific study carried out over a five year period at the University of Vigo in Spain, has confirmed that it is very important to try and reduce your high blood pressure at night. This is according to the head of the research team – Ramon Hermida. According to the findings of this study if you take your high blood pressure medication just before bedtime, this can reduce your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, and help to reduce the level of hypertension.
The study looked at a total of over 2000 men and women who had existing high blood pressure, and took their blood pressure medication at night, and compared them with those who took their blood pressure medicine in the morning. The results showed a one-third reduction in the risk of having an Angine episode, Stroke or Heart Attack in the late night group.
IMPORTANT – YOU MUST NOT SWITCH THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION FROM MORNING TO NIGHT WITHOUT SEEING YOUR DOCTOR AS THIS CAN CAUSE SUDDEN LOW BLOOD PRESSURE IN THE MORNING AND MAY CAUSE YOU TO SUFFER A STROKE
Best time of day to take Anti-Coagulant Heart Medication
Completely opposite to blood pressure medicine, the best time of day to take anti-coagulant heart medication to protect against the risk of having a stroke is in the early morning !!
This is according to Professor Russell Foster who is a leading academic at Oxford University in England. His advice is to take any anti-stroke medication before you have fully awakened and risen from bed, and before any exertion.
This is a fascinating case study that brings relevant evidence pertinent to heart disease directly to the forefront. It should serve as a convincing argument about why people suffer from heart attacks, and also act as a guide on how to avoid them, which is the primary reason that the ‘Lower Blood Pressure’ website exists.
The unlikely connection with the quiet, peaceful and prosperous country of Norway is probably an unlikely place to look for heart disease statistics. Nevertheless some valuable data was obtained as a side effect of the occupation of this small nation by the invading army from Nazi Germany in the 1940’s.
Prior to the outbreak of World War 2 the Norwegian population enjoyed a high standard of living, including good nutrition – a relatively rich diet of food and drink compared with many other European countries. Unfortunately, the prosperous citizens of this tiny Scandinavian country also suffered from a high mortality rate from heart attacks and heart disease related illness.
During the occupation years, however, there was a sharp fall in the number of recorded deaths from heart attacks and other diseases of the cardiovascular system. Even more surprising was the observed reduction in the number of instances of blood clotting (thrombosis) in hospital patients recovering from surgery, due to the lack of physical activity during the post-operative sedentary period.
What could be the reason for this reduction in heart disease ?
The simple answer is that during the Nazi occupation of their country, the Norwegian people faced hardships that were previously unknown to them. This consisted of a cumulative series of denials of many of the unhealthy practices that we currently indulge in our daily lives in 2012.
This included the following :-
- Drastic reduction in smoking due to shortage of supply of cigarettes and tobacco
- Forced labor by the occupying army resulting in increased daily physical activity
- Reduced intake of Meat and Dairy Produce – much of this was exported back to Germany
- Massive increase in fish consumption – reliance on locally caught fish due to the shortage of beef, cheese and milk
The result of this forced change of lifestyle was that the majority of the population lost some weight, lowered their blood cholesterol level, became more physically fit, stopped smoking and lowered their blood pressure. Consequently, despite increasing stress levels due to the pressures on daily life imposed by the occupying forces of the invading army, the overall heart health of the people increased !!
As if this wasn’t proof enough, we need to now look at what happened during the years following the end of the War. This is quite shocking. Within two short years, with the abundance of rich foods and tobacco, and despite a reduction in stress levels associated with daily living, the heart attack and stroke death rates were once again back at the pre-war levels.
Despite the glaring and uncontrovertible evidence that was available to the medical authorities from this wartime data, it would not be for another three decades until the world finally woke up to the inescapable correlation between diet, smoking exercise and heart disease.
It should serve as a valuable lesson to us all that we CAN make a difference to our own heart health, once we accept the undeniable facts, and it only takes a relatively short time (within a year or two) to begin to lower our risk of suffering from a heart attack.
Here’s some great news about heart attacks and strokes for a change.
The British Heart Foundation has released new statistics in January 2012 that show a 50% reduction in the number of heart attacks suffered by people in the United Kingdom over the period from 2002 to 2012.
Furthermore, of those who do suffer a heart attack, or a stroke (which is effectively the same as a heart attack on the brain), there has been a corresponding fall of 50% in the number of deaths in these people as a result of the attack.
Professor Peter Weissberg (Medical Director at the BHF, and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine) was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today Program, and questioned by the presenter as to the reason for the fall. He revealed that research over the years has increased our understanding of the causes, and prevention of the cardiovascular disease, and also lead to improved treatments for heart attack and stroke.
There has been much more publicity in recent years about how to look after your heart health, that has led to a greater understanding by the average person and encouraged them to eat healthier diets, take more exercise, quit smoking, and lose weight.
Another important factor that has recently started to impact positively on the statistics, is the introduction of the smoking ban in public areas that was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2007. Smoking causes the furring up of the arteries that increases the risk of a heart attack. Smoking also has some detrimental impact on the already furred up arteries.
The British Heart Foundation also funded some research in Scotland that examined the impact of the smoking ban, and this has shown that the beneficial results of the new policy started to become apparent there within just three weeks of the start of the ban. This is very encouraging news for anyone who is considering considering giving up smoking, as it demonstrates the tangible and rapid benefit from giving up.
There is still much work to do however, as Cardiovascular Disease remains the largest single cause of death in the UK in 2012. Also a quarter of all people who suffer from a heart attack die before they are able to receive treatment. This is one area that Professor Weissberg indicated could be improved by more public awareness of how the average person could help to treat a heart attack victim at the scene of the incident using Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
A new type of CPR has recently been publicised in a national TV advertising campaign. Known as ‘hard and fast’ it shows the Hollywood ‘hard man’ Vinnie Jones performing a new type of hands only CPR on a heart attack victim. You can see the movie below :-
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from a heart attack, and you live in Berkshire, you’re in the best place you can possibly be.
The Royal Bershire Hospital, renowned for it’s pioneering work in the field of cardiac medicine, and recent innovations such as the new high definition CT Scanner, has now been commended for having the lowest wait time of any hospital in the United Kingdom for the treatment of heart attacks.
The critical one hour period between having a heart attack and getting professional medical treatment is sometimes known as the ‘golden hour’, because treatment administered during this time has a much greater influence on the patient’s outcome, and chances of a return to full health.
The Royal Berkshire has achieved an amazing average of only 19 minutes response time between admission time and potentially life saving Angioplasty treatment (which is surgery that is used to widen a blocked or clogged artery that may have caused or contributed to the heart attack) – the lowest wait time for any hospital in the United Kingdom.
We’d just like to offer our congratulations to all the staff who have made this possible through their hard work and dedication, especially at this difficult time of spending cutbacks.