Pesticide, metal exposure tied to increased risk of heart disease

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Pesticide, metal exposure tied to increased risk of heart disease


Workers who are exposed to pesticides or metals on the job may be significantly more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, a U.S. study suggests.


Researchers examined data on occupational exposure to solvents, metals and pesticides for 7,404 workers who were part of a Hispanic/Latino health study in four cities: Chicago, San Diego, Miami and New York. Overall, 6.5 percent of participants reported exposure to solvents at work, 8.5 percent encountered potentially toxic metals and 4.7 percent had pesticide exposure.


Individuals who were exposed to pesticides were more than twice as likely overall to have conditions like heart disease, heart failure or an irregular rapid heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. Metal exposure was associated with a four-fold increase in risk for atrial fibrillation.


“Occupational exposures have been associated with clinical risk factors of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, but few studies have evaluated whether there is actually an association with cardiovascular disease itself,” said lead study author Maria Argos of the University of Illinois at Chicago.


“Our study suggests that occupational exposures to metals or pesticides is associated with an elevated prevalence of coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation,” Argos said by email.


It’s possible, however, that exposure to pesticides or metals might increase inflammation or directly cause damage in the cardiovascular system, Argos said.


Overall, 6.1 percent of the workers in the study had at least one form of cardiovascular disease. Most of these cases were coronary heart disease, in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the heart.


Workers exposed to pesticides were 2.2 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than workers without this exposure. Pesticide exposure was also associated with nearly six times the odds of atrial fibrillation and a 38 percent higher risk of blood vessel damage in the brain.


“These findings are especially important for individuals with other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases who work in occupations that deal with potential pesticide and metal exposures,” Horne, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.


Workers who come in contact with pesticides and metals, regardless of any other risk factors for heart disease, should take precautions to limit their exposure, doctors advise.


“A number of precautions can be taken to minimize workplace exposures such as working in well-ventilated areas, utilizing protective equipment such as gloves, eyewear, or respirators, and washing hands or skin coming in contact with hazardous agents,” Argos said. “Behavioral changes such as eating healthy and being physically active are the best ways to minimize risk for those who may be concerned about developing heart disease.”


SOURCE: bit.ly/2VHFPc3 Heart, online December 11, 2018.

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