Conversations kill

Published: Tuesday 30 June 1998

Talking can raise our blood pressure, says a group of researchers based in Paris, France. They have warned that people who chat to their doctor during a check-up could be prescribed drugs they actually do not need. Cardiologists have known for some time that blood pressure can rise in a doctor's surgery. Claude le Pailleur and his team at the Necker Hospital in Paris compared readings taken while volunteers were sitting, doing nothing with those taken while they were talking or reading a book. The readings of both systolic blood pressure, taken as the blood surges from the heart into the aorta, and background diastolic blood pressure, rose sharply as patients talked. The team also noted that reading a book usually caused a mild drop in blood pressure compared with doing nothing. Le Pailleur believes that the effect will influence the prescription of drugs that can have side effects that may include headaches and dizziness. "Undoubtedly, there are many people who are getting hypertension drugs which they don't need.

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