ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Get to Know the Pap Test
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Light - Live Longer
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Eating your way to Good Health
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
EYE CARE, VISION
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Workplace Wellness Seems to Really Work
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis 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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