Lead exposure causing hypertension is the mechanism commonly assumed to set off premature death and cardiovascular complications. However, at current exposure levels in the developed world, the link between hypertension and lead remains unproven. In the Study for Promotion of Health in Recycling Lead (URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT02243904), we recorded the 2-year responses of office blood pressure (average of 5 consecutive readings) and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure to first occupational lead exposure in workers newly employed at lead recycling plants. Blood lead (BL) was measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (detection limit 0.5 µg/dL). Hypertension was defined according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline. Statistical methods included multivariable-adjusted mixed models with participants modeled as a random effect and interval-censored Cox regression. Office blood pressure was measured in 267 participants (11.6% women, mean age at enrollment, 28.6 years) and ambulatory blood pressure in 137 at 2 follow-up visits. Geometric means were 4.09 µg/dL for baseline BL and 3.30 for the last-follow-up-to-baseline BL ratio. Fully adjusted changes in systolic/diastolic blood pressure associated with a doubling of the BL ratio were 0.36/0.28 mm Hg (95% CI, −0.55 to 1.27/−0.48 to 1.04 mm Hg) for office blood pressure and −0.18/0.11 mm Hg (−2.09 to 1.74/−1.05 to 1.27 mm Hg) for 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure. The adjusted hazard ratios of moving up across hypertension categories for a doubling in BL were 1.13 (0.93–1.38) and 0.84 (0.57–1.22) for office blood pressure and ambulatory blood pressure, respectively. In conclusion, the 2-year blood pressure responses and incident hypertension were not associated with the BL increase on first occupational exposure.
Yu, Y. L., Yang, W. Y., Thijs, L., Melgarejo, J. D., Yu, C. G., Wei, D. M., ... & Staessen, J. A. (2020). Two-year responses of office and ambulatory blood pressure to first occupational lead exposure. Hypertension, 76(4), 1299-1307. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15590
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