Study Says Talking on Cell Phones Raises Blood Pressure

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A new study says you can add a commonplace activity to the list of things that raise blood pressure: talking on a cell phone.

According to ScienceDaily, findings of a study presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension suggest that mobile phone calls could be the cause of a rise in blood pressure. Other findings from the meeting conclude that practicing yoga might lower it, while individuals suffering from hypertension could have an elevated desire for foods on the salty side even though they need to cut back on sodium.

Researchers from Italy's Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital found that subjects' blood pressure readings jumped to 129/82 from 121/77 while they were on mobile phone calls. For those who were involved in more than 30 calls each day, the rise in systolic (the top number) blood pressure was less dramatic, however.

The scientists did not identify cause and effect and merely speculated that those who made so many calls were apt to be younger patients used to telephone intrusions. They also cited the possibility that someone who makes more than 30 calls feels reassured by the knowledge that the phone is working and that missed calls are unlikely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nearly a third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. It's linked to conditions like heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease and is responsible for $47.5 billion a year in direct medical expenses.

Healthcare providers measure blood pressure as a force against the walls of arteries while the heart pumps blood. According to PubMed Health, when considering hypertension, the significant readings include:

  • Normal: Lower than 120/80 mmHg
  • High/hypertension: 140/90 or higher
  • Pre-hypertension: At least 120/80 but lower than 140/90.

All categories apply to what the patient's readings are most of the time.

I discovered I had high blood pressure when I visited a new doctor shortly after breaking my ankle and getting a cast that stretched to my knee. At first, I wondered if the culprit behind the elevated numbers was a cast that was too tight. However, when I returned a few weeks later without the cast, the numbers were the same.

I spent the next year trying half a dozen drugs for hypertension. The same drug has successfully controlled my blood pressure most of the time for the last 10 years, although I sometimes have to alter the dose.

Initially, the idea that merely talking on a cell phone would raise my blood pressure didn't seem cause for concern, since I make and get few calls. However, I soon realized that every time my cell phone rings, I experience physical stress and can actually feel my blood pressure rising. Maybe there's something to it. Or maybe time to add yoga.

Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.

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