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Association between blood lead levels and blood pressures in a non-smoking healthy Korean population
  1. Kyu Rae Lee1,
  2. Ki Dong Ko2,
  3. In Cheol Hwang2,
  4. Heuy Sun Suh2,
  5. Kyoung Kon Kim2
  1. 1 Department of Family Medicine, Dong-Incheon Gil Hospital, Gachon University, Incheon, South Korea
  2. 2 Department of Family Medicine, Gil Medical Centre, Gachon University, Incheon, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Professor K R Lee, Family Medicine, Dong-Incheon Gil Hospital, Gachon University, 21 Keunumul-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon 22318, South Korea; baria07{at}


Objective The Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) has been performed every 3 years in Korea to help prevent cardiovascular mortality in the general population. Previous studies showed an association between blood lead levels and cardiovascular mortality. In order to assess the relationship between blood lead concentration and blood pressure in the healthy general population, we investigated whether blood lead levels were related to blood pressure in a non-smoking healthy population without any known medical diseases in the 2013 KNHANES.

Methods 896 (mean age 40.55±13.83 years; body mass index 23.06±3.33 kg/m2) subjects who had no known diseases were included among 8018 subjects. Exclusion criteria were: hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, cerebrovascular events, renal insufficiency, liver cirrhosis, thyroid dysfunction, any cardiovascular or renal disease, and any malignancy. Blood pressures were measured three times by sphygmomanometers, 5 min apart. Blood pressures were then expressed as the average between the second and third values. Height, weight, waist circumferences and blood pressure, as well as total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), white blood cell count and blood lead levels were measured. In addition, dietary components were analysed by 24 hour recall.

Results The association between log blood lead levels and systolic/diastolic pressure was stronger after it was controlled for age, sex, education, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) (p=0.048, 0.002). Furthermore, the association between log blood lead levels and systolic pressure (p=0.048) and diastolic pressure (p=0.002) was more evident when controlled for age, sex, education, BMI, waist circumference, FPG, AST and ALT.

Conclusions Blood lead levels are significant determinants of systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a healthy Korean population, irrespective of sociodemographic factors and metabolic derangements.


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