ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
CANCER
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Eat Light - Live Longer
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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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