Forget salt and hot movie stars. New research into what raises — and lowers — blood pressure has found a surprising new culprit in hypertension: smartphone use.
Italian researchers are reporting evidence that simply answering a mobile phone call can boost high blood pressure significantly.
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In a presentation made at as scientific meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in San Francisco this week, the investigators said their examination of a group of volunteers found talking on mobile phones consistently raised their blood pressure readings significantly — from 121/77 to 129/82 — for reasons that are unclear.
"The cellular phone has burst into our everyday life, and is often an indispensable communication tool for business and social relations," said study author Giuseppe Crippa, M.D., head of the hypertension unit at Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital in Piacenza, Italy.
"[Now] we know that the radio-frequency field generated by mobile phones does not affect blood pressure, and should not increase blood pressure in subjects suffering from hypertension.
"But what is the effect of the noise generated by the phone ringing and of the intrusion into our life of an unscheduled phone conversation? In our study, we have shown that blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure, increases quickly and significantly in this situation."
Dr. Crippa noted blood pressure rise was less drastic in patients who were used to having more than 30 phone calls per day.
"The subset of patients who were more accustomed to phone use were younger, which could show that younger people are less prone to be disturbed by telephone intrusions,” he suggestd. “Another possibility is that people who make more than 30 calls per day may feel more reassured if the mobile phone is activated since they are not running the risk of missing an opportunity."
The researchers noted one in three Americans (and 1 billion people worldwide) have high blood pressure and an estimated 87 percent of U.S. residents have a mobile phone.
Other research presented at the conference showed that yoga can significantly lower blood pressure. University of Pennsylvania investigators found people who practiced yoga two to three times per week were able to lower their blood pressure an average of three points for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, from 133/80 to 130/77.
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Another study, by scientists from Sao Paolo University in Brazil, found hypertensive individuals actually prefer more salt in their food than do people without high blood pressure. But the study also found the use of other seasonings in food diminished the preference for salt.
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