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Lead Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease-A Systematic Review *

Objective
This systematic review evaluates the evidence on the association between lead exposure and cardiovascular end points in human populations.

Methods
We reviewed all observational studies from database searches and citations regarding lead and cardiovascular end points.

Results
A positive association of lead exposure with blood pressure has been identified in numerous studies in different settings, including prospective studies and in relatively homogeneous socioeconomic status groups. Several studies have identified a dose–response relationship. Although the magnitude of this association is modest, it may be underestimated by measurement error. The hypertensive effects of lead have been confirmed in experimental models. Beyond hypertension, studies in general populations have identified a positive association of lead exposure with clinical cardiovascular outcomes (cardiovascular, coronary heart disease, and stroke mortality; and peripheral arterial disease), but the number of studies is small. In some studies these associations were observed at blood lead levels < 5 μg/dL.

Conclusions
We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship of lead exposure with hypertension. We conclude that the evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship of lead exposure with clinical cardiovascular outcomes. There is also suggestive but insufficient evidence to infer a causal relationship of lead exposure with heart rate variability.

Public Health Implications
These findings have immediate public health implications. Current occupational safety standards for blood lead must be lowered and a criterion for screening elevated lead exposure needs to be established in adults. Risk assessment and economic analyses of lead exposure impact must include the cardiovascular effects of lead. Finally, regulatory and public health interventions must be developed and implemented to further prevent and reduce lead exposure.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 11-13-2009
Authors: Ana Navas-Acien, Eliseo Guallar, Ellen K. Silbergeld and Stephen J. Rothenberg
Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2007 March; 115(3),: 472-482