Some individuals are morning people; some are nighthawks. While many use those preferences to arrange their work or school schedule, workouts and time to relax, some also use them to remember when to take medication (such as before leaving in the morning). However, that may not be a good idea. Once a day does not mean any time of day. Research shows that timing is everything, even with regard to the most effective time to take certain drugs.
Low-dose aspirin, for example, should be taken at night. Millions take aspirin daily to keep their blood thin to thwart a future heart attack or stroke. It works by making blood less sticky (and therefore thinner). Taking the aspirin at night ensures it is more effective in the morning hours, which is the most likely time for heart attacks.
Another example is cholesterol-control statin medications. They should be taken in the evening before bedtime. The drug targeted an enzyme that is part of the body’s cholesterol-production process, which is most active during the night.
Brains, livers, fat cells and other body parts have a rhythm and timing over a 24-hour period. One research area looks internal chemistry timing and influences on different processes. Called chronobiology, the science field studies how internal clocks work, which includes when certain body processes typically take place. Drug timing on those processes has also been studied for some time, and lead to the data on when to take statins and aspirin.
The latest research has scientists claiming that 56 of the best-selling100 medications are tied to body functions where there are optimum times to take them in the 24-hour daily cycle. These prescription drugs include things like Ritalin, Viagra, Nexium and even some chemotherapy drugs.
A research team from the University of Pennsylvania recently found more evidence that when those drugs are taken may influence how effective they are. They suggested that timing is under appreciated as a factor as to whether a drug works, as many of them may not be as effective after six hours. The team also suggested that timing could influence potential side effects.
The University of Pennsylvania has been a leading center for studying how time influences the living world. Many of their studies have used fruit flies. However, the latest research, which is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used mice. They have a body clock that is the opposite of what humans experience. Mice are active at night and sleep by day. However, many molecular body processes are similarly influenced by time.
The researchers found that an amazing 43 percent of mouse genes apparently had activity patterns tied to the rodents’ day-night cycle. The scientists believe that medications that target those genes probably have different results depending on which time they are consumed during the day. They also identified two physiological “rush hours” before dawn and dusk where there was more activity.
Scientists have started identifying the ideal time of day that the genes in different body organs body are most active. For example, they found that the liver and the kidneys are most active in the evening. Hearts, as previously determined, are most active in the morning. Genes linked to lung activity are most active around noon. The research team hopes the data will help drug manufacturers (and even users) identify the optimum time when they should take the drugs, because timing is everything.
By Dyanne Weiss