Mobile phones and blood pressure

June 5, 2023

Feeling tense? Blood pressure through the roof?

Maybe you should turn your mobile phone off!

A new study by Professor Xianhui Qin and team from China shows a link between mobile phone use and hypertension (high blood pressure).

‘Hypertension is one of the leading preventable risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and premature death worldwide,’ the authors said, pointing out that it affected over 24% of men and 20% of women worldwide in 2015. It’s a major risk for heart attacks and stroke and is one of the leading causes for premature death globally. ‘Therefore, it is urgent to identify more modifiable factors to improve the primary prevention of hypertension and reduce its associated severe disease burden.’

To test the link between mobile phone use and hypertension, the team examined health and phone use of volunteers enrolled in the UK Biobank, a biomedical database for research. Altogether 212,046 people were included in the final analysis after a 12-year follow-up.

Here is what they found.

  • People who used mobile phones for more than 30 minutes a week had ‘significantly’ (a 12%) higher risk of hypertension than those who used mobile phones for less than 30 minutes a week.

  • People with longer weekly use of mobile phones (30 minutes or more) and a genetic predisposition to hypertension had the highest (33% greater) risk.

How might mobile phone use contribute to hypertension?

The authors suggested three potential mechanisms.

  1. They considered the position of the body during a call could play a role but said this couldn’t account fully for the results.

  2. ‘Second, the high frequency of mobile phone use might be linked to adverse mental health and sleep disorders, both of which can lead to vascular damage, and in turn, result in elevated blood pressure,’ they said.

  3. ‘Third, some previous studies have shown that the RF-EMF of mobile phones can cause a number of harmful effects at the molecular and cellular levels, including DNA damage, oxidative stress, and inflammation, all of which might contribute to the pathogenesis of hypertension,’ the authors suggested.

The results of the study suggest the importance of fully exploring the relationship between mobile phone use and hypertension for public health.

‘If further confirmed, our study suggests that reducing the time spent using mobile phones to make or receive calls may play a role in the primary prevention of hypertension in the general population,’ the authors wrote.

Ziliang Ye et al, Mobile phone calls, genetic susceptibility, and new-onset hypertension: results from 212 046 UK Biobank participants, European Heart Journal - Digital Health, 2023; ztad024, 

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