Lead exposure is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published in The Lancet journal. This toxic metal present in different industrial activities is less and less used but remains a public health problem.
The study was conducted on more than 14,200 people’s data
Premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases and ischemic heart disease are thought to be increased by the exposure to lead exposure, which, according to recent researches, comes from the still widespread use of this toxic metal in fuel, paint, plumbing, and so on.
Also, lead has been found, during the time, in foods (even in foods for babies) and air due to heavy industry’s emissions.
The study used the data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES-III) on more than 14,200 Americans aged 20 and over. All participants underwent a medical examination and a test on their lead level.
During the observation, which took more than 20 years, 4422 people died prematurely, out of which more than 1800 died from cardiovascular diseases and approximately 1,000 from ischemic heart disease.
Lead exposure is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases
The average level of lead found in the participants’ blood was 2.7 μg/dL.
One in five of the subjects (around 3630 people) had levels of 5 μg/dL or more. Besides, the researchers noticed that those who presented the highest lead levels were older, less educated, smokers, alcohol abusers, adopted unhealthy diets, presented higher cholesterol levels, and were more likely to have hypertension or diabetes.
The researchers found that people with high levels of lead (equal or above 6.7 μg/dL) were 37% more likely to die prematurely, regardless of the cause, and 70% more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases.
“Our findings suggest that of the 2.3 million deaths each year in the United States, about 400,000 can be attributed to lead exposure, an estimate ten times higher than the current one,” the study’s authors said.
The scientists concluded that lead exposure is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and many more disorders, including some of a neurological nature.