Lead Exposure + High BP = Mental Problems
According to the findings of a new study,presented at the 2005 American HeartAssociation's High Blood Pressure Researchmeeting, exposure to lead in childhoodand adolescence may contribute to ahypertension-related decline that canimpair a person's cognitive abilities. Preliminaryfindings indicate that the combinationof childhood lead exposure and high bloodpressure in adulthood may result in diminishingmental capabilities in later life.
Lead investigator Domenic Sica, MD,professor of medicine and pharmacology atVirginia Commonwealth University, Richmond,stated that "both lead exposure andhypertension have been associated withcognitive impairment in older adults. Leadexposure early in life may have ...a carry-througheffect in adult life."
The study involved 4835 people aged20 to 59 years. Researchers looked at therelationships between pulse pressure,blood lead levels, and C-reactive protein,a marker of inflammation. Neurobehavioraltests and simple reaction times alsowere measured. They found that, afteradjusting for other variables, the interactionof pulse pressure and blood lead levelson the completion times for a test ofmental abilities was significant. Theresearchers found slower and less stablereaction times associated with increasesin pulse pressure and blood lead levels.