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Reduced 'blood lead levels' linked with cardiovascular health improvements: Study

IANS Jan 13, 2024

Researchers have discovered that small declines in "blood lead levels" were associated with long-term cardiovascular health improvements in American Indian adults, a new study has said.

In the study published in the journal of the American Heart Association, the participants who had the greatest reductions in blood lead levels saw their "systolic blood pressure" fall by about 7 mm Hg -- an amount comparable to the effects of blood pressure-lowering medication.

"We saw that even small decreases in a person’s blood lead levels can have meaningful health outcomes," said senior author Anne E. Nigra, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

In addition to seeing improvements in systolic blood pressure, the researchers found that reductions in blood lead levels were associated with reductions in a marker linked with 'hypertrophic cardiomyopathy' and 'heart failure'.

At the start of the study, participants' average blood lead level was 2.04 µg/dL. Throughout the study, the average blood lead level dropped by 0.67 µg/dL, or 33 per cent.

The most significant changes, categorised by participants with average starting blood lead levels of 3.21 µg/dL and who experienced reductions of about 1.78 µg/dL, or 55 per cent, were linked to a 7 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the study noted.

“This is a sign that whatever is happening in these communities to reduce blood lead levels is working,” said Mona Puggal, MPH, an epidemiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

“The reductions in blood pressure are also comparable to improvements you would see with lifestyle changes, such as getting 30 minutes of daily exercise, reducing salt intake, or losing weight,” she added.

The researchers emphasised that it is also important to investigate these findings in other communities and to look for additional ways to reduce lead exposure, especially in other populations with elevated risks for exposure and cardiovascular disease.

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