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Low-Level Lead Exposure Ups CVD Mortality Risk in U.S. Adults

Last Updated: March 13, 2018.

Environmental lead exposure is a risk factor for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease mortality, according to a study published online March 12 in The Lancet Public Health.

TUESDAY, March 13, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Environmental lead exposure is a risk factor for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease mortality, according to a study published online March 12 in The Lancet Public Health.

Bruce P. Lanphear, M.D., from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues quantified the relative contribution of environmental lead exposure to all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and ischemic heart disease mortality in a nationally representative sample of 14,289 adults aged 20 years and older enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that 20 percent of participants had a concentration of lead of at least 5 µg/dL in blood. A total of 4,422 people died during a median follow-up of 19.3 years: 38 percent from cardiovascular disease and 22 percent from ischemic heart disease. There was a correlation for an increase in the concentration of lead in blood from 1.0 to 6.7 µg/dL (10th to 90th percentiles) with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and ischemic heart disease mortality (hazard ratios, 1.37, 1.70, and 2.08, respectively). The population attributable fractions of the concentration of lead in blood for all-cause, cardiovascular, and ischemic heart disease mortality were 18.0, 28.7, and 37.4 percent, respectively, equivalent to 412,000, 256,000, and 185,000 deaths annually.

"A comprehensive strategy to prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease should include efforts to reduce lead exposure," the authors write.

One author disclosed serving as an expert witness in plaintiff cases of childhood lead poisoning.

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