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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2005;208(5):341-56.

Is lead considered as a risk factor for high blood pressure during menopause period among Saudi women?

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Biological and Medical Research Department, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, P. O. Box 3354, Riyadh 11211, Saudi Arabia.


This case-control study was designed to examine the association between blood lead levels and high blood pressure in a restricted subpopulation, Saudi women who were 45-93-year old, during or after menopausal period and not occupationally exposed to lead. Blood lead levels were assessed in 100 women with hypertension and 85 control subjects. Lead concentrations were measured in the whole blood using flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Blood pressure measurements were performed according to the World Health Organization recommendations. Results revealed that the mean blood lead levels for hypertensive were 47.52+/-39.26 and 45.59+/-28.55 microg/l for controls. Participants were classified according to the median of blood lead levels in order to compute odds ratios. After controlling a number of potential confounding variables, the multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that women with blood lead levels of > or = 38.6 microg/l were 5.27 times more likely to be hypertensive than those with blood lead levels of < 38.6 microg/l, but of borderline significance (p = 0.06). Although such observation might support the hypothesis that the depletion of lead from bones during menopause increases blood lead levels placing women at increased risk for high blood pressure, there is a need for further studies with larger number of subjects. A number of risk factors, which were suspected to influence blood lead levels, were also investigated. Use of Kohl, duration of its use, osteoporosis disease and intake of calcium supplements were significantly associated with blood lead levels.

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