Professor Familoni, head department of Medicine, in the 81st inaugural lecture of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye entitled “The Body: Out of the Issues of the Heart” said even when it is not ringing, the emitted electromagnetic field can still affect the electrical activity of the heart, particularly in persons with hypertension.
He declared that many Nigerians are not aware that the electrical activity of their heart may be defective, adding the habitual carrying of mobile phones in breast pockets exposes to the electromagnetic field that over time may cause an irregular heartbeat.
Professor Familoni said irregular heartbeat, what is medically called palpitations or heart arrhythmias, can sometimes be deadly and even lead to death within a few minutes.
The expert, who said there has been an increase in public concern about the possible health risks associated with the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phones, said anything that could further worsen the heart’s electrical activity could prone to heart problems, including heart attack.
According to him, “We investigated the effects of electromagnetic field emitted from mobile phones on QT intervals on the electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing among our hypertensive patients.
QT intervals tell of some electrical activity of the heart. When it is prolonged longer than necessary, it may lead to dangerous and malignant irregular heartbeat which can lead to death within a few minutes.“We studied the effect when the phone was put on the praecordium that is over the heart (chest pocket) or in the hip (side pocket) either in the ‘ringing’ or ‘off’ position. The longest QT intervals were recorded when the phone was on the praecordium and in the ‘ringing mode’ compared to when it was on the hip.
“We concluded that short-term exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phone interferes with QT intervals in hypertensive patients particularly when ringing on the praecordium.
“Though the changes in QT intervals were not observed in normal individuals and did not reach critical values in the hypertensives; it stands to reason that subjects who are prone to QT interval prolongations like hypertensive patients should keep their phones in the hips rather than chest pockets.”
Professor Familoni said unless the heart is deliberately nurtured and protected from the various risk factors, there is a tendency for it to fail temporarily, progressively or permanently in its function.
He added, “hypertension, high blood cholesterol level, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity are some of the modifiable risk factors that we have identified that are able to lead to improper functioning of the heart.
“A significant proportion of apparently normal Nigerian population is hypertensives without been aware of these latent time bombs. “Unfortunately, about a third of apparently normal Nigerians have a condition of prolonged QT interval in which a further prolongation might portend dangerous consequences.”
Professor Familoni, however, stated that ensuring healthy heart will entail among other things, proper control of blood pressure, consciously reducing salt intake, exercising and maintaining healthy body weight.
– Nigerian Tribune