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Am Heart J. 1999 Apr;137(4 Pt 2):S14-S24.

Chronopharmacology and chronotherapy of cardiovascular medications: relevance to prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease.

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University of Texas, School of Public Health Sciences Center, Houston, TX, USA.


Biological functions and processes, including cardiovascular ones, exhibit significant circadian (24-hour) and other period rhythms. Ambulatory blood pressure assessment reveals marked circadian rhythms in blood pressure both in normotensive persons and hypertensive patients, whereas Holter monitoring substantiates day-night patterns in electrocardiographic events of patients with ischemic heart disease. The concept of homeostasis, that is, constancy of the milieu interne, which has dominated the teaching, research, and practice of medicine during the 20th century,is now being challenged by emerging concepts from the field of chronobiology-the science of biological rhythms. Epidemiologic studies document the heightened morning-time risk of angina, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Circadian rhythms in coronary tone and reactivity, plasma volume, blood pressure, heart rate, myocardial oxygen demand, blood coagulation, and neuroendocrine function plus day-night patterns in the nature and strength of environmental triggers all contribute to this morning vulnerability. Homeostatically devised pharmacotherapies, that is, medications formulated to ensure a near-constant drug concentration, may not be optimal to adequately control diseases that vary in risk and severity during the 24 hours. Moreover, circadian rhythms in the physiology of the gastrointestinal tract, vital organs, and body tissues may give rise to administration-time differences in the pharmacokinetics and effects of therapies. Thus the same medication consumed in the same dose under identical conditions in the evening and morning may not exhibit comparable pharmacokinetics and dynamics. New technology makes possible chronotherapy, that is, increase of the efficiency and safety of medications by proportioning their concentrations during the 24 hours in synchrony with biological rhythm determinants of disease. The chronotherapy of peptic ulcer disease achieved by the evening dosing of H 2-receptor antagonists and of asthma by the evening dosing of special drug delivery forms of theophylline and morning methylprednisolone administration has proven to be beneficial. Controlled-onset extended-release verapamil constitutes the first chronotherapy of essential hypertension and ischemic heart disease; once-a-day bedtime dosing results in a high drug concentration in the morning and afternoon and a reduced one overnight. Studies demonstrate effective 24-hour control of blood pressure, including the attenuation of its rapid rise in the morning, without induction of nighttime hypotension. Moreover, this formulation effectively controls angina, especially in the morning when the risk of ischemia is greatest. Determination of the role of verapamil chronotherapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality awaits the results of the CONVINCE trial now in progress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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