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Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Make Sure Your Blood Pressure is Right

Friday, October 30th, 2015

By: AJ OliverMoon_by_Adam_Cebula

Take a quick moment to think about your typical nightly routine. It most likely includes actions such as washing your face, showering, brushing your teeth or setting aside your outfit for the next day. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), adding the task of taking your medication may prove more beneficial to your health. In 2011, a new study reported by Harvard Health Publications claimed that taking your daily blood pressure medications at night will help lower the reading in those diagnosed with high blood pressure.1 Although that sounds like a no brainer, it is important to note that those not diagnosed with hypertension experience blood pressure readings that alternate based on the time of day. Getting out of bed is the hardest part of the day but once you do get out of bed, blood pressure rises. Before you start getting scared that your blood pressure will reach sky high before you start eating lunch, do not worry because your blood pressure will remain steady. Guess when your blood pressure will be at its lowest? Yep, you guessed it – it is lowest at night, usually between midnight and three or four o’ clock in the afternoon.1 This phenomenon is called “dipping”. However, people with high blood pressure experience “non-dipping,” meaning their blood pressure does not decrease at night – making the finding above important.2

Unfortunately, the same hormone that contributes to hypertension also increases the release of sugars from the liver and lowers insulin sensitivity.2 The combination causes an increase of risk for Type 2 diabetes in those who have hypertension. This was investigated in a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.3  In the study of 2,012 people with high blood pressure, half of the participants were instructed to take their blood pressure medications at night while the other half were instructed to take these medications in the morning.4 They monitored the participants for six years over which time 171 of the participants developed Type 2 diabetes.2 The researchers found that the half who took the blood pressure medications at night before going to bed had lowered their blood pressure more than those who took it in the morning.4 Additionally, these same participants also had a 57 percent lower risk for diabetes. Therefore, study authors concluded that taking a blood pressure medication before going to bed could benefit those who have hypertension by lowering blood pressure readings at night and decrease the risk of developing diabetes.1 However, with these studies there is a point that is important to note. Authors found that some older participants taking their blood pressure medications at night had critically low readings in the morning when trying to rise out of bed causing an increased risk of falls.1

Considering the evidence, taking blood pressure medication at night appears to be effective for improvement in blood pressure and risk of diabetes. However, it is necessary to take the proper precautions before starting blood pressure medications at night. Contact your doctor and pharmacist to see if you are suitable for taking blood pressure medications at night. Also, make sure that you use the same methods as you would use if you were to take these medications during the day. For instance, be sure to make a list of all the blood pressure medications taken.5 Also, try to get a good understanding of the side effects of your medications, not all blood pressure medications should be taken at night. For example, blood pressure medications like hydrochlorothiazide and Lasix are within a class of medications called diuretics.6 One of the side effects of diuretics is an increase in the volume of urine, which may result in multiple trips to the bathroom throughout the night.  For the medications you do take at night, make it a routine to take it at the same time every day.5 Do not alternate between taking the medications at night and during the day. Finally, keep your doctor informed and get your blood pressure checked regularly. If your primary care physician says you are good to go for taking your blood pressure medications at night then get to it! This may be a hard change and a lot to keep in mind. What are some ways to remind yourself to take these medications at the same time every night as well as reminding yourself to check your blood pressure? Do you think that taking blood pressure medication at night would be helpful for you?

References:

  1. LeWine H. Taking blood pressure pills at bedtime may prevent more heart attacks, strokes. Harvard Health Publications. October 25, 2011. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/taking-blood-pressure-pills-at-bedtime-may-prevent-more-heart-attacks-strokes-201110253668. Accessed October 29, 2015.
  2. Thompson D. Timing your blood pressure med right might prevent diabetes. News & View. September 24, 2015. http://news.health.com/2015/09/24/taking-blood-pressure-drugs-at-night-may-help-prevent-type-2-diabetes/. Accessed October 29, 2015.
  3. Hermida RC, Ayala DE, Mojón A, Smolensky MH, Portaluppi F, Fernández,J.R. Sleep-time ambulatory blood pressure as a novel therapeutic target for cardiovascular risk reduction. J Hum Hypertens. 2014;28(10):567-574. Accessed October 29, 2015.
  4. Bakalar N. Hypertension drugs may be more effective if taken at night. Well. October 2, 2015. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/hypertension-medicines-are-best-taken-at-night/?ref=health&_r=1. Accessed October 29, 2015.
  5. Web M. D. Taking high blood pressure drugs properly. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/how-take-blood-pressure-medicine-properly-why-you-should. Accessed October 29, 2015.
  6. Drugs.com. Diuretics. http://www.drugs.com/drug-class/diuretics.html.