Phthalates are ubiquitous in environment. Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Phthalate exposure is associated with hypertension in multiple studies. This review aims to summarize the scientific literature on associations between phthalate exposure and hypertension and discuss the mechanisms in the relationship. We identified and reviewed original articles published to March 2018, using PubMed and Web of Science to search the terms "phthalate(s)," "phthalic acid," "blood pressure," "high blood pressure," "hypertension," "prehypertension," and "cardiovascular disease." Findings were summarized based on the relevance to the themes, including presentation of main phthalates and their major metabolites as well as associations of phthalate exposure with blood pressure in epidemiological and experimental studies. We identified ten population-based investigations and five toxicological experiments. Epidemiological data underscored a possible correlation between phthalate exposure and hypertension in adults, whereas individual study in children stands on the opposite. Experimental studies mainly targeted the increasing effect of phthalates on blood pressure. This review suggested some underlying mechanisms of phthalate-associated hypertension. Considering the current evidence, phthalate might be risk factors of hypertension. However, the effect of phthalate exposure in early life on blood pressure in later life or adulthood is still unclear. Well-designed longitudinal and molecular mechanism studies are indispensable.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular disease; Hypertension; Phthalates; Risk factor.