HealthDay News — Exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium, and copper is associated with elevated risk of clinical cardiovascular disease outcomes, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Aug. 29 in The BMJ.

Rajiv Chowdhury, MBBS, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review with 37 unique studies comprising 348,259 non-overlapping participants, 13,033 with coronary heart disease, 4205 with stroke, and 15,274 with cardiovascular disease outcomes in aggregate. The authors sought to examine the correlation of toxic metal contaminants with cardiovascular disease. 

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The researchers found that the pooled relative risks for arsenic and lead were 1.30 (95% confidence interval, 1.04 to 1.63) and 1.43 (1.16 to 1.76), respectively, for cardiovascular disease; 1.23 (1.04 to 1.45) and 1.85 (1.27 to 2.69), respectively, for coronary heart disease; and 1.15 (0.92 to 1.43) and 1.63 (1.14 to 2.34), respectively, for stroke when comparing the top vs the bottom thirds of baseline levels. For cadmium and copper, the corresponding relative risks were 1.33 (1.09 to 1.64) and 1.81 (1.05 to 3.11); 1.29 (0.98 to 1.71) and 2.22 (1.31 to 3.74); and 1.72 (1.29 to 2.28) and 1.29 (0.77 to 2.17). There was no correlation for mercury with cardiovascular outcomes. For arsenic, lead, and cadmium there was a linear dose-response relation with cardiovascular outcomes.

“These findings reinforce the importance of environmental toxic metals in cardiovascular risk, beyond the roles of conventional behavioral risk factors,” the authors write.

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