Ingestion-time differences in the pharmacodynamics of hypertension medications: Systematic review of human chronopharmacology trials

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2021 Mar:170:200-213. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2021.01.013. Epub 2021 Jan 22.


Pharmacokinetics of hypertension medications is significantly affected by circadian rhythms that influence absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. Furthermore, their pharmacodynamics is affected by ingestion-time differences in kinetics and circadian rhythms comprising the biological mechanism of the 24 h blood pressure (BP) pattern. However, hypertension guidelines do not recommend the time to treat patients with medications. We conducted a systematic review of published evidence regarding ingestion-time differences of hypertension medications and their combinations on ambulatory BP-lowering, safety, and markers of target organ pathology. Some 153 trials published between 1976 and 2020, totaling 23,869 hypertensive individuals, evaluated 37 different single and 14 dual-fixed combination therapies. The vast (83.7%) majority of the trials report clinically and statistically significant benefits - including enhanced reduction of asleep BP without inducing sleep-time hypotension, reduced prevalence of the higher cardiovascular disease risk BP non-dipping 24 h profile, decreased incidence of adverse effects, improved renal function, and reduced cardiac pathology - when hypertension medications are ingested at-bedtime/evening rather than upon-waking/morning. Non-substantiated treatment-time difference in effects by the small proportion (16.3%) of published trials is likely explained by deficiencies of study design and conduct. Systematic and comprehensive review of the literature published the past 45 years reveals no single study reported significantly better benefit of the still conventional, yet unjustified by medical evidence, upon-waking/morning hypertension treatment schedule.

Keywords: Asleep blood pressure; Bedtime hypertension chronotherapy; Blood pressure dipping; Chronopharmacology; Hypertension medications; Pharmacodynamics.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*


  • Antihypertensive Agents