Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Lead exposure causes one in three cardiovascular deaths

Lead exposure causes one in three cardiovascular deaths

Nearly one in five deaths in the United States can be linked to lead pollution, with even low levels of exposure potentially fatal, researchers have said. "And instead of it being 40,000 deaths, which is what had previously been estimated, we found that it was about 10 times that".

But lead pipes, once extensively used in plumbing, can still be found in older properties, while industrial emissions and contamination from smelting sites and batteries mean that some level of exposure to the metal continues.

The study concluded that almost 30 percent of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease - basically, heart attacks and strokes - "could be attributable to lead exposure".

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and a leading author of the study said that the connection between lead subjection and high blood pressure has been an age old entity, the immensity of the outcome on cardiovascular temporality, specifically at lesser degree of lead exposure was substantial than expected. The risk factor is even higher for people with cardiovascular disease, given that lead exposure is linked to high blood pressure, the hardening of the arteries and ischemic (coronary) heart disease.

Lead exposure causes deaths in the United States and the number is increasing continually.

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The scientists analysed data from the Third Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), a major study monitoring the health of USA citizens. But if we're underestimating the impact of lead exposure on cardiovascular disease mortality and other important outcomes beyond IQ, then it might have a big impact on the way we make investments in preventing lead poisoning exposure.

The new research challenges "the assumption that specific toxicants - like lead - have "safe levels", he said in a statement. "Currently, low levels of lead exposure are an important, but largely ignored risk factor for deaths from cardiovascular disease".

Canadian scientists studied over 14-thousand older adults exposed to lead-based paints or other products before they were banned.

They were not, however, able to factor out the possible impact of exposure to arsenic or air pollution.

Additionally, the study took only one reading of lead in participants' blood, when levels were likely to have changed over time. The figures quoted apply to the USA, and it is unclear how levels of lead exposure in Britain compare, but if results were similar in this country it would mean 100,000 deaths a year could be linked to past lead pollution.

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