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Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Vol. 8, Iss. 9, 11, April 2013

Ischemic heart disease risk factors in lead exposed workers: research study


Background Review of other epidemiological studies reveal inconsistent results of relationships between high blood lead level and risk of hypertension, hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia. In this study we wanted to find if there is a relationship between blood lead level and these ischemic heart disease risk factors.

Methods This cross-sectional study was conducted in a battery recycling plant, and 497 male workers with the mean age of 41.7 (±6.50) years were recruited from all over the plant (those from the products and maintenance sections were classed as “high lead exposed group” and those from amongst the office, laboratory, security services and food services sections as “low lead exposed group”). Personal information such as demographics and work history was obtained through a questionnaire. Mean (±Standard deviation) for quantitative variables, Frequency (Percent) for qualitative variables, and Odd’s ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for estimating the effect of blood lead level on lipid profile[triglyceride (TG), cholesterol(CHOL), low density lipoprotein – Cholesterol(LDL-C),high density lipoprotein –Cholesterol(HDL-C)], hypertension(HTN) and fasting blood sugar (FBS) level. Logistic regression modeling was used for multivariate analysis and adjusting the effect of different variables (age, body mass index(BMI), eating habits, cigarette smoking).

Results The mean Blood Lead Level (BLL) was >40 μg/dl in 281 (56.6%) subjects, ≤40 μg in 216 (43.4%) subjects and the mean BLL was 43.3 μg/dl (n = 497). The mean job experience involving lead exposure was 13 years. There was no significant correlation between BLL and FBS (p = 0.68), between BLL and TG (P = 0.32), between BLL and HDL-C (p = 0.49), between BLL and LDL-C (p = 0.17), between BLL and CHOL(p = 0.96), between BLL and systolic blood pressure (p = 0.12). The adjusted Odd’s ratio for the effect of BLL >40.0 μg/dl on diastolic blood pressure was1.03 (95% CI: 1.01–1.05) with p = 0.05.

Conclusion This study showed an association of high BLL with diastolic blood pressure but not with TG, FBS, and HDL-C, LDL-C and CHOL . This result persisted even after adjustment was made for age, BMI and job experience, smoking and eating habits. Attention to health-protective policies, individual behavioral changes and regular periodic medical examination with focus on diastolic blood pressure in lead exposed workers is likely to decrease the public health burden of ischemic heart disease.


Hyperglycemia, Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, Ischemic heart disease, Lead

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