June 24, 2014

WITH BLOOD PRESSURE, lower isn’t always better.

The observational study, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved 4,480 people. In the 22 years covered by the study, there were 1,622 heart attacks and other serious cardiac problems. Cardiac events were more common in people whose blood pressure exceeded 140, and particularly among those with readings over 160.

But there was no difference in the risk for heart failure, stroke or heart attack between those in the normal range (120 to 140) and those with a level below 120. Researchers controlled for smoking, use of blood pressure drugs, and other variables.

There are downsides to low blood pressure. For many years, mine was very low — numbers like 105/60 — and I had problems with dizziness if I stood up too fast. Now it runs about 10-15 points higher and I feel better.