ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
FITNESS
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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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