In the Journals

Low levels of lead linked to death from heart disease

More than 400,000 deaths annually from ischemic heart disease and CVD may be attributable to low levels of lead exposure, according to findings recently published in Lancet Public Health.

“Previous studies of cardiovascular disease mortality in lead-exposed populations have been criticized because they did not account for other risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, such as cadmium,” Bruce P. Lanphear, MD, of the department of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues wrote.

“No studies have estimated the number of deaths in the U.S.A. attributable to lead exposure using a nationally representative cohort, and it is unclear whether concentrations of lead in blood lower than 5 µg/dL (< 0.24 mol/L), which is the current action level for adults in the U.S.A., are associated with cardiovascular mortality,” they added.

Researchers analyzed blood and urine tests from 14,289 patients older than 20 years (mean geometric concentration of lead in blood, 2.71 µg/dL). Results of these patients’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and home interviews were also studied.

Lanphear and colleagues found that after a median of 19.3 years, 4,422 people died, with 988 deaths due to ischemic heart disease and 1,801 of the deaths due to CVD. An increase of lead concentration in the participants’ blood from 1 µg/dL to 6.7 µg/dL, was linked to ischemic heart disease mortality (HR = 2.08; 95% CI, 1.52–2.85, or 185,000 deaths a year); CVD mortality (HR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3–2.22, or 256,000 deaths a year); and all-cause mortality (HR = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.17–1.6).

Researchers also wrote the level of lead concentration was indicative of the 10th to 90th percentiles of such concentrations.

Heart in Hands
More than 400,000 deaths annually from ischemic heart disease and CVD may be attributable to low levels of lead exposure, according to findings recently published in Lancet Public Health. Source: Shutterstock

“Our study findings suggest that low-level environmental lead exposure is an important risk factor for death in the U.S.A., particularly from cardiovascular disease,” Lanphear and colleagues wrote.

“It is not surprising that lead exposure is overlooked; it is ubiquitous, but insidious and largely beyond the control of patients and clinician... This study suggests that estimating the contribution of environmental lead exposure is essential to understand trends in cardiovascular disease mortality and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease,” they concluded. – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Lanphear reports serving as an expert witness in plaintiff cases of childhood lead poisoning in Milwaukee and Flint, Michigan, but receives no personal compensation. No other relevant financial disclosures were reported.

More than 400,000 deaths annually from ischemic heart disease and CVD may be attributable to low levels of lead exposure, according to findings recently published in Lancet Public Health.

“Previous studies of cardiovascular disease mortality in lead-exposed populations have been criticized because they did not account for other risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, such as cadmium,” Bruce P. Lanphear, MD, of the department of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues wrote.

“No studies have estimated the number of deaths in the U.S.A. attributable to lead exposure using a nationally representative cohort, and it is unclear whether concentrations of lead in blood lower than 5 µg/dL (< 0.24 mol/L), which is the current action level for adults in the U.S.A., are associated with cardiovascular mortality,” they added.

Researchers analyzed blood and urine tests from 14,289 patients older than 20 years (mean geometric concentration of lead in blood, 2.71 µg/dL). Results of these patients’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and home interviews were also studied.

Lanphear and colleagues found that after a median of 19.3 years, 4,422 people died, with 988 deaths due to ischemic heart disease and 1,801 of the deaths due to CVD. An increase of lead concentration in the participants’ blood from 1 µg/dL to 6.7 µg/dL, was linked to ischemic heart disease mortality (HR = 2.08; 95% CI, 1.52–2.85, or 185,000 deaths a year); CVD mortality (HR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3–2.22, or 256,000 deaths a year); and all-cause mortality (HR = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.17–1.6).

Researchers also wrote the level of lead concentration was indicative of the 10th to 90th percentiles of such concentrations.

Heart in Hands
More than 400,000 deaths annually from ischemic heart disease and CVD may be attributable to low levels of lead exposure, according to findings recently published in Lancet Public Health. Source: Shutterstock

“Our study findings suggest that low-level environmental lead exposure is an important risk factor for death in the U.S.A., particularly from cardiovascular disease,” Lanphear and colleagues wrote.

“It is not surprising that lead exposure is overlooked; it is ubiquitous, but insidious and largely beyond the control of patients and clinician... This study suggests that estimating the contribution of environmental lead exposure is essential to understand trends in cardiovascular disease mortality and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease,” they concluded. – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Lanphear reports serving as an expert witness in plaintiff cases of childhood lead poisoning in Milwaukee and Flint, Michigan, but receives no personal compensation. No other relevant financial disclosures were reported.