ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
CANCER
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
CAREGIVING
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Light - Live Longer
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
EYE CARE, VISION
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Maximize Your Run
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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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