Drop in Blood Lead Linked to Decline in Systolic BP in American Indian Adults

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Significant linear associations seen for systolic blood pressure decline where blood lead decline is 0.1 µg/dL or higher

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Even small reductions in blood lead levels are associated with decreases in systolic blood pressure among American Indian adults, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Wil Lieberman-Cribbin, M.P.H., from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues examined whether declines in blood lead were associated with changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in American Indian adults. Lead in whole blood was measured in 285 American Indian adults in 1997 to 1999 and 2006 to 2009. Generalized estimating equations were used to assess the associations of declines in blood lead with changes in blood pressure and measures of cardiac geometry and function, measured in 2001 to 2003 and 2006 to 2009.

The researchers found that the mean decrease in blood lead was 0.67 µg/dL after approximately 10 years. The mean difference in systolic blood pressure was –7.08 mm Hg comparing the highest to lowest tertile of decline in blood lead (>0.91 versus <0.27 µg/dL) in fully adjusted models. There was a significant nonlinear association observed between the declines in blood lead and declines in systolic blood pressure; where the decline in blood lead was ≥0.1 µg/dL, significant linear associations were seen. Nonsignificant associations were observed for declines in blood lead with declines in diastolic blood pressure, and significant associations were seen with declines in interventricular septum thickness.

“This is a huge win for public health,” senior author Anne E. Nigra, Ph.D., also from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said in a statement. “We saw that even small decreases in a person’s blood lead levels can have meaningful health outcomes.”

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