An aspirin before going to bed might reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack in the morning, new research suggests.
Latest findings could be good news for an estimated 1.3 million victims living in the UK as previous research indicated that heart attacks are more likely and more severe between 6am and midday.
290 heart patients were given the painkiller during a trial and told to take it either upon waking or at bedtime over two periods of three months. At the end of each period, their blood pressure and platelet activity were measured.
Blood pressure was not affected by the treatment of 100mg of aspirin a day, but aspirin taken at night led to a significant reduction in platelet activity. Taking the drug at night made it more difficult for the platelets to stick together in the morning. Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that make it clot. Lowered platelet activity, which peaks in the morning, is likely to result in less blood clotting and a reduced risk of heart attacks.
Lead researcher Dr Tobias Bonten, of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: “Because higher platelet activity contributes to a higher risk of acute heart events, this simple intervention - switching aspirin intake from morning to bedtime - could be beneficial for the millions of patients with heart disease who take aspirin on a daily basis.”
The discovery comes just a month after warnings that daily use of aspirin could in some cases lead to complications such as internal bleeding and haemorrhagic stroke. Research in April revealed that small doses of the drug may block the growth and spread of the most virulent strains of breast cancer. Another study last year found that older adults who use aspirin regularly for 10 years or more may have an increased risk of developing an age-related eye disorder that can lead to vision loss.
Today’s findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Dallas, Texas.