Drinking water that is contaminating with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart’s main pumping chamber in young adults; a structural change that increases the risk for future heart problems; according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, an American Heart Association journal. People drinking water from private wells, which are not regulated; need to aware that arsenic may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
People are most frequently exposed to arsenic, a toxic metalloid, through drinking water in areas where groundwater is contaminated; including many American Indian tribal communities and other rural and suburban communities in the United States. Previously, several studies have shown that arsenic exposure raises the risk of heart disease and its risk factors; including high blood pressure and diabetes. This is the first study to review the question in young American Indians in Oklahoma, Arizona and North and South Dakota.
Evaluating cardiovascular risk
Here, researchers reviewed data from the Strong Heart Family Study; a study evaluating cardiovascular risk factors among American Indians. Arsenic exposure in urine samples from 1,337 adults (average age 30.7 years, 61% female) and the size, shape, and function of their hearts assessed using ultrasound.
Therefore none of the participants had diabetes or heart disease at the start of the five-year study. Overall, arsenic exposure was higher than in the general United States population but lower than that found in other studies conducting in Mexico and Bangladesh. With a two-fold increase in arsenic in the urine.
1.47% greater chance of thickening of the heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle) in the group as a whole; and
2.58% greater chance of thickening of the left ventricle in participants with increased or high blood pressure (blood pressure at least 120/80 mm Hg or using pressure-lowering medication).
Toxic effects of arsenic on the heart
“The stronger association in subjects with elevated blood pressure suggests that individuals with pre-clinical heart disease might; more prone to the toxic effects of arsenic on the heart,” Pichler said. So the studies are by having only one measure of arsenic exposure, and by the lack of long-term follow-up of the participants. Although this study in tribal populations in the north, central and southwestern United States; so the results are likely to generalizable to millions of people in other rural locations exposing to low or moderate levels of arsenic in their water; according to Pichler.
Therefore the study raises the question of whether the changes in heart structure are reversible if exposure. Some changes have occurred in water sources in the study communities, and it will important to check the potential health; the impact of reducing arsenic exposure,” Pichler said.
“Observational studies can stimulate future research on genetic, but environmental and clinical factors to shed light on the relationship between arsenic and cardiovascular disease “These studies are important since cardiovascular disease remains the single leading cause of adult premature death; so worldwide and millions of individuals globally are exposing to arsenic and other metal contaminants.”