ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Light - Live Longer
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Workplace Wellness Seems to Really Work
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
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
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
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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