Arsenic Exposure Linked to Changes in Heart Structure

Arsenic in drinking water linked to LV hypertrophy, especially for prehypertensive, hypertensive

heart model

TUESDAY, May 7, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- In young American Indians, arsenic exposure is associated with an increase in left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, according to a study published in the May issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Gernot Pichler, M.D., Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues recruited 1,337 young adult participants, who did not have diabetes or heart disease, from the Strong Heart Family Study to examine the correlation between arsenic exposure and echocardiographic measures of LV geometry and functioning. The baseline sum of inorganic and methylated arsenic concentrations in urine (ΣAs) was a biomarker for arsenic exposure. Participants were followed for a mean of 5.6 years.

The researchers found that increased arsenic exposure correlated with prevalent LV hypertrophy; the odds ratio per twofold increase in ΣAs was 1.47 in all participants and 1.58 among prehypertensive or hypertensive individuals. No correlation was seen with incident LV hypertrophy. In both cross-sectional and prospective analyses, the continuous measures of LV geometry including LV mass index, left atrial systolic diameter, interventricular septum, and LV posterior wall thickness, were positively and significantly related to arsenic exposure. Significant associations for stroke volume and isovolumic relaxation time were seen with arsenic exposure.

"The study raises the question of whether the changes in heart structure are reversible if exposure is reduced," Pichler said in a statement. "It will be important to check the potential health impact of reducing arsenic exposure."

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