Eating dinner after 7pm increases risk of heart attacks
Millions of us are increasing our risk of heart attacks by eating dinner after 7pm, experts have warned.
Having dinner within two hours of bed time does more damage than the long-established risk of having a high-salt diet, a study found.
More than 700 adults with high blood pressure were assessed to find out what difference their diet and eating times made to their health.
The study, by a Turkish university, examined the types of foods eaten, levels of salt consumed, whether breakfast was eaten regularly and the timing of evening meals.
Researchers found that eating dinner late had the most significant impact on overnight blood pressure.
Cardiologists at the world's largest heart conference in Rome said the study suggested that when people eat could be as important as what they eat. A healthy diet meant eating a good breakfast and lunch, but limiting the last meal of the day to a light meal, ideally no later than 7pm.
One in four people suffer from high blood pressure - also known as hypertension - which is one of the key risks for heart disease.
In around 40pc of cases, blood pressure fails to drop properly overnight, sharply increasing the chance of heart attacks. The study found that those who eat dinner late are almost twice as likely to suffer from "non-dipper hypertension" - when pressure fails to drop properly overnight.
In total, 24.2pc of those who ate dinner within two hours of bed suffered from blood pressure which did not drop sufficiently overnight, compared with 14.2 per cent of those who ate their evening meal earlier.
Experts said that eating late left the body on "high alert" encouraging the production of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, while it might also disrupt the circadian rhythms.
The research - the first to examine the links between late night eating and "non-dipper hypertension" - said those who skipped breakfast were also more likely to fail to see an overnight dip in pressure.