ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Antioxidants Abound in Cereals, Popcorn, Whole-Grain Snacks
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Health Gains From Lowered Smoking Rates in Jeopardy
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Add your Article

Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- While too-high blood pressure is a clear hazard for most people, too-low pressure can apparently be a threat in some cases as well.

A new study of 10,001 people with coronary artery disease found what statisticians call a J-shaped curve of mortality, meaning a higher death rate for people with the lowest blood pressure. Dr. Franz H. Messerli, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and director of the hypertension program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, reported on the finding Thursday at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in San Francisco.

"It stands to reason that there has to be a J-shaped curve," Messerli said. "If your blood pressure were zero, you would be dead."

He acknowledged that the people in the study were a bit out of the ordinary, with already-diagnosed coronary artery disease. The study was aimed at determining the effect of treatment with different amounts of a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, with blood pressure measured as a matter of routine.

When the results were in, the lowest rate of deaths and major coronary problems such as heart disease was seen not in the participants with the lowest blood pressure but in those slightly to the right on the curve, with a reading of 139.9 for systolic pressure (the reading when the heart contracts) and 79.2 for diastolic pressure.

Though Messerli stressed that this was "a unique population, with coronary artery disease, where the coronary arteries are compromised," he noted that "there has to be a point where lowering blood pressure is counterproductive."

That point can be seen on the curve of systolic pressure in this group, he said. "When you go from 120 to 130, even from 110 to 130, there is very little difference," Messerli said. "When it goes below 110, then all of a sudden it becomes very obvious."

The effect is more pronounced for diastolic pressure readings. "If you go to 70 or below, say to 60, there is a fourfold higher risk in the primary outcomes," he said.

A too-low reading, he noted, could mean that the brain is not getting enough blood. "Obviously, if there is a lack of blood, there can be danger similar to that when there is too much blood," Messerli said.

The finding in this particular group certainly doesn't mean that most people should worry about blood pressure being too low, he said. "By and large, within reason, lower is better," Messerli said.

But that might not be true in special cases, he said. "You can have a funny situation where one organ in the body is demanding more blood than is good for the rest of the body," Messerli said. "What is OK for the kidney and OK for the brain may not be OK for the heart."

Controlling high blood pressure remains a major concern for physicians, Messerli said. "There are a lot of patients who are untreated and uncontrolled," he said. "We need to do a better job."

Dr. Alan H. Gradman, professor of medicine at Temple University, said that the study should be treated with caution because the number of people with very low blood pressure was small, but he said that "it does suggest that there may well be a J curve in people with coronary artery disease."

Though many other studies have not shown a J curve, "which is why the idea that you can't go too low is out there," the new study results might mean a slight revision of that rule in some cases, Gradman said.

"If you treat people with coronary artery disease for hypertension, you don't want to go too low, to diastolic pressure below about 70," he said. "That's the take-home message here."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more on high blood pressure.



SOURCES: Franz H. Messerli, M.D., professor, clinical medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, and director, hypertension program, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, New York City; Alan H. Gradman, M.D., professor, medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia; May 7, 2009, meeting, American Society of Hypertension, San Francisco

Last Updated: May 07, 2009

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