The best time to take aspirin to reduce the risk of a heart attack is in the evening, a study shows.
The painkillers are taken by millions of Britons to keep their blood thin and cut the risk of potentially deadly clots.
And a major heart conference was told blood cells were least likely to bind dangerously together following a bedtime aspirin.
In the study, 290 people were asked to take a low-dose aspirin every morning for three months, then before bedtime for three months. At the end of each period, they underwent tests on their blood pressure and platelets.
Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that make it clot. Aspirin makes it harder for them to stick together and so cuts the odds of them forming a clump that could trigger a heart attack or stroke.
The treatment of 100mg of aspirin a day did not cut blood pressure. However, taking the drug at bedtime did make it more difficult for the platelets to stick together in the morning – the peak time for heart attacks.
Lead researcher Dr Tobias Bonten, of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: ‘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.’
However, British experts said it was too early for patients to make any changes on the back of the study.
Maureen Talbot, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘We know aspirin can be vital in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Research into the best time to take a daily dose of aspirin is an interesting idea, but we would need to see much larger and longer studies before a change in practice can be recommended.
‘For now, keep taking your daily aspirin as recommended by your doctor. If you have any concerns about your medication, talk it through with your GP.’
The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions meeting in Dallas, Texas.
Millions of Britons who have survived a heart attack or stroke take low-dose aspirin each day to keep their blood thin. It is also taken by some smokers and others considered to be at risk of having a first heart attack. Some ‘worried well’ also take a daily dose of the painkiller as a form of health insurance.
Many will take it first thing in the morning, to prevent them from forgetting it and to get it out of the way for the day.
Previous research has shown aspirin cuts the risk of certain cancers by more than 40 per cent, even when only taken every other day. Harvard researchers in the US found that even a very low dose of the painkiller drastically reduces the odds of bowel and stomach cancers.
Women who took one 100mg tablet every other day were 43 per cent less likely to get bowel cancer and 36 per cent less at risk of stomach cancer, after a period of 20 years.
source: dailymail UK