Heart experts have advised that adults should never eat within two hours of bedtime and ideally, nothing after 7pm. late-night meal keeps the body on ‘high alert’
In a healthy person, blood pressure drops by at least 10 per cent when they go to sleep.
Millions of people are putting themselves at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke by eating after 7pm, researchers have warned.
But the results of a study of more than 700 people with high blood pressure found that eating within two hours of bedtime meant their levels stayed high.
Experts think this is because eating releases a rush of stress hormones when the body should be starting to relax.
People who do not see their blood pressure fall at night are known as ‘non-dippers’ – and have a much higher rate of heart-related death. Late eaters were nearly three times more likely to be non-dippers, the Turkish researchers found.
Researcher, Dr Ebru Özpelit, presenting her results at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, said, “If we eat late at night, the body essentially remains on high alert as during the day, rather than relaxing for sleep.”
Stress hormones are secreted, causing blood pressure not to decrease during sleep, which should normally happen.
Dr Özpelit, from the Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey, tracked 721 people diagnosed with high blood pressure, with an average age of 53. She found that those who ate within two hours of going to bed were 2.8 times more likely to retain high blood pressure overnight.
Some 9.4 million people in the UK are diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.
They are already at a higher risk of heart disease, but if their blood pressure does not fall at night, that risk increases to a far higher level.
Experts estimate that 40 per cent of patients with hypertension are non-dippers – potentially 3.76million people in Britain– putting them at serious risk of major heart problems.