MILLIONS of Brits could slash their risk of a fatal heart attack by two-thirds by taking their pills just before bed, research reveals.
A landmark trial shows having blood pressure medication at the end of the day slashed chances of cardiovascular death by 66 per cent.
And chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke fell by nearly half, compared to taking the tablets in the morning.
Doctors commonly advise patients to have their pills first thing.
But the findings in the European Heart Journal show using the drugs at bedtime is far more effective.
Experts think it is because better regulated overnight blood pressure continues to boost outcomes throughout the day.
And said the “impressive” trial could transform how millions of Brits are treated.
Significant drop in deaths
Spanish scientists split nearly 20,000 patients into two groups, with half taking their entire dose first thing, while the rest taking it at bedtime.
They were followed for six years and had their blood pressure monitored for 48 hours at least once every 12 months.
Lead researcher Professor Ramón Hermida, from the University of Vigo in Spain, said: “The results of this study show that patients who routinely take their anti-hypertensive medication at bedtime, as opposed to when they wake up, have better-controlled blood pressure and, most importantly, a significantly decreased risk of death or illness from heart and blood vessel problems.
“Current guidelines on the treatment of hypertension do not recommend any preferred treatment time.
“Morning ingestion has been the most common recommendation by physicians based on the misleading goal of reducing morning blood pressure.”
High blood pressure is the biggest single trigger of heart disease and stroke.
It is known as the silent killer, because the symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late.
Under NHS rules, it is a reading over 140/90mmHg – with around 12 million people eligible for treatment.
Commenting on the study, Tim Chico, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Sheffield University, said: “The results are impressive. This study provides good evidence that it may well be better to take blood pressure tablets at bedtime, not in the morning.”
Nearly 170,000 Brits a year die heart attacks, strokes or other circulatory conditions.
Paul Leeson, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford University, said: “This study has the potential to transform how we prescribe blood pressure medication.
“The findings are likely to be relevant to most people who take tablets for high blood pressure.”
Vanessa Smith, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation 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.”