The abnormal metabolism of metal ions plays an important role in health and disease conditions, and studies about them have been attracting significant interest. The aim of our study was to assess the heavy metals (cadmium, copper, iron, nickel, chromium, lead, and zinc) in scalp hair samples of 200 hypertensive (HT) patients of an urban population together with 215 non-hypertensive male subjects in the age group of 30-60 years. Hair samples were digested with conventional wet ashing and microwave digestion. Analyses of both digests were done by flame and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry.
The validity of methodology was checked by use of the certified reference material (CRM 397) hair, provided the Community Bureau of Reference, Commission of the European Communities. According to a statistical evaluation of the results, the microwave digestion method was a valid alternative to the conventional acid digestion method, p value >0.05, but it gave a faster digestion. The overall metal recoveries were 96-98% of those obtained with microwave digestion. Among the toxic elements determined, levels of nickel, cadmium, copper, chromium, and lead in scalp hair samples of hypertensive patients were significantly higher compared normal male subjects, whereas the essential elements such as iron and zinc were found to be low compared age-matched non-hypertensive subjects.