An epidemiological re-appraisal of the association between blood pressure and blood lead: a meta-analysis

T S Nawrot, L Thijs, E M Den Hond, H A Roels, J A Staessen
Journal of Human Hypertension 2002, 16 (2): 123-31
Studies on the possible association between blood pressure and blood lead have reached divergent conclusions. In a previous meta-analysis, a doubling of the blood lead concentration was associated with a 1.0/0.6 mm Hg increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP). This meta-analysis updates the analysis originally performed in 1994. Articles on the association between BP and blood lead were identified from computer searches from January 1980 to February 2001 using the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System. Of the studies reviewed, 31 provided sufficient details to be considered. The meta-analysis included 58518 subjects recruited from the general population in 19 surveys and from occupationally exposed groups in 12 studies. In all but four studies, the results were adjusted for age, and most studies took into account additional confounding factors such as body mass index and the use of alcohol and medication. Weighted joint P-values were calculated using Stouffer's procedure. The association between BP and blood lead was similar in both men and women. In the combined studies, a two-fold increase in blood lead concentration was associated with a 1.0 mm Hg rise in the systolic pressure (95% CI +0.5 to +1.4 mm Hg; P < 0.001) and with a 0.6 mm Hg increase in the diastolic pressure (95% CI +0.4 to +0.8 mm Hg; P < 0.001). On balance, this meta-analysis suggests that there can only be a weak association between BP and blood lead.

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