Monday, June 16, 2008

While slightly off-topic, I thought that this might be worthwhile reading...

When is the right time to take your pills?
Monday, May 26, 2008

While millions take medication every day, few of us pay much attention to the time of day we pop our pills. Yet new research shows that timing is key to how well certain drugs work, including some used to treat osteoarthritis, cancer and asthma. More than 60 drugs were found to be more effective at certain times of the day. For instance, when used to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis, ibuprofen is most effective when taken between noon and 3 p.m; but if you have rheumatoid arthritis its probably better to take it after an evening meal. Some cancer therapies are up to four times more effective when given in the morning compared to the evening, while some cholesterol-lowering statins are best taken at night. The researchers from New York University says this is all down to our circadian clock. This is the 24-hour internal body clock driven by the hypothalamus gland in the brain which determines when we feel tired. It also controls more than a hundred other functions, including body temperature, hormone production, blood pressure, bowel movements, alertness and the immune system. The peak time for each varies over the 24-hours. So what is the best time for taking pills for your condition? Here, we reveal what researchers have found. (Always make sure that you consult your doctor before making any changes to the way you take prescribed medication.) 7 a.m.: High blood pressure because blood pressure peaks in the morning, patients may benefit from early morning therapy. A Chinese study found that taking a calcium channel-blocker drug, amlodipine, had a better effect when given at 7 a.m. than at 7 p.m. Noon: Osteoarthritis patients with osteoarthritis may experience more pain at night and less during the day. According to a Texas Tech University report, therapy with ibuprofen and similar drugs should be timed to ensure the highest blood levels of the drug coincide with peak pain. For osteoarthritis sufferers, the optimal time for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen would be around noon or mid-afternoon. That would make it active as symptoms begin to build-up. 3-4 p.m.: Night-time worsening of asthma is common, and the drop in lung functioning can be as much as 50 per cent. This is because the circadian rhythm causes natural hormones to be at lower levels at night, which results in a reduction in the width of the airways. A single dose of inhaled steroid in the afternoon has a protective effect against asthma worsening that same night, say researchers at the University of Sao Paulo. Other research shows that a 3 p.m. dose of prednisone, an asthma drug, was superior to the same drug given at 8 a.m. for improving overnight lung functioning and reducing airway inflammation. 4 p.m.: Fever and other symptoms of the common cold peak around this time, according to a study at Quebec University, so it is best to take any medication now or just before. 6-7 p.m.: Researchers at Kansas University compared morning and evening use of rabeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor for gastrooesophageal reflux (GORD). Symptoms were eased in 71 per cent of patients who had it in the afternoon and evening compared to 42 per cent of those who were given it in the morning. 8 p.m.: Research has shown that rheumatoid arthritis patients experience the greatest pain in the mornings. Taking ibuprofen just after the evening meal may be the most effective way to prevent pain developing overnight, say University of Texas-Tech researchers. 7-9 p.m.: Studies at the University of Sunderland and other centres show that evenings may be the best time to take simvastatin, one of the most widely used statins for lowering cholesterol. When patients switched taking the drug from evening to morning, there was a significant increase in bad LDL cholesterol. 7-9 p.m.: According to a University of Colorado report, hay fever symptoms, including sneezing and nasal congestion, peak in the early morning. This means evening therapy may be best, so that symptoms are treated overnight before they build-up. 10 p.m.: Anti-ulcer drugs may be more effective at this time. Stomach acid levels vary during the day, and ulcer symptoms can peak in the evening and early morning. Drugs called H2-receptor antagonists have been used as a treatment, and research by pharmacists at the University of Texas suggests bedtime dosing may be most effective.