Lead, Hypertension Linked To Cognitive Decline

Childhood lead exposure and hypertension may impair cognitive function later in life

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Early exposure to lead combined with hypertension in adulthood may result in cognitive impairment later in life, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's annual high blood pressure research meeting in Washington, D.C.

Using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III), Domenic Sica, M.D., a professor of medicine and pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and his colleagues found evidence of the link between early lead exposure, adult high blood pressure and diminishing cognitive abilities.

NHANES III involved 4,835 people aged 20 to 59; of these, 51% were female, 35.4% were white, 31.4% were black and 29.7% were Hispanic. The research team looked at pulse pressure, blood lead level and C-reactive protein, in addition to the results of neurobehavioral tests and simple reaction time tests.

The researchers found slower and less stable reaction times were associated with increases in pulse pressure and blood lead levels.

"These findings suggest a possible synergistic effect between blood pressure and blood lead load on accuracy and time taken to do a mental task involving effortful attention and concentration, in working age adults in the general population," the researchers write.

Abstract (P. 63)

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