High blood pressure: NHS doctor explains causes
From a lack of exercise to poor dietary choices, there are some obvious triggers for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
However, a new study, published in the European Heart Journal, has suggested that your phone could also pose a risk.
While social media and various messaging services have made calls less popular, just 30 minutes a week spent chatting on your mobile could raise your blood pressure risk, the research suggests.
Worryingly, hypertension is a stepping stone to serious health problems, ranging from heart attacks to strokes.
Whether you pick up the phone to phone a friend or to do some admin, the researchers are recommending keeping your chats to a minimum.
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The findings suggested that those who spent just half an hour on the phone speaking, even hands-free, were 12 percent more prone to high blood pressure.
Furthermore, six hours of phone chats a week raised the risk to 25 percent.
Lead author Professor Xianhui Qin, of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, said: “It’s the number of minutes people spend talking on a mobile that matter for heart health, with more minutes meaning greater risk.
“Years of use or employing a hands-free set-up had no influence on the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.”
However, the professor also suggested that chatting on the device may not affect the risk of developing hypertension as long as weekly calls are kept below 30 minutes.
The research team arrived at these findings by analysing more than 200,000 over 30s from the UK Biobank, which is a database that contains genetic and other health information on around half a million Britons.
Information on the use of mobiles to make and receive calls was gathered through a self-reported touchscreen questionnaire that included years of use, hours per week, and the use of a hands-free device or speakerphone.
The participants who used a phone at least once a week to make or receive calls were defined as mobile phone users in the study.
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After adjusting the data for this criterion, around 88 percent of participants qualified as mobile phone users.
The research team tracked the participants for 12 years and also took into account factors like age, sex, smoking status, blood pressure and more.
The results showed that weekly usage time of 30 to 59 minutes, one to three hours, four to six hours and more than six hours was associated with an eight, 13, 16 and 25 percent higher risk respectively.
This was compared to participants who spent less than five minutes per week making or receiving calls.
Furthermore, the likelihood of developing high blood pressure rose by 33 percent in those with a high genetic risk for the condition, who spent at least 30 minutes a week talking on a mobile.
The reason behind the blood pressure rise could come down to phones emitting low levels of radio frequency energy, which have been previously linked with spikes in blood pressure after short-term exposure, Professor Qin explained.
However, the results of previous studies on mobile phone use and hypertension were inconsistent.
Therefore, the professor explained that more research is required, “but until then it seems prudent to keep mobile phone calls to a minimum to preserve heart health”.
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