OBJECTIVES: The relation between blood lead concentration (PbB) and blood pressure was examined in a Taiwan nationwide population survey of PbB from July 1993 to June 1994. METHODS: After multistage sampling procedures, 2800 subjects (1471 males and 1329 females) with a mean (range) age of 44 (15-85) years were enrolled in this study. Anthropometric, blood pressure, and lifestyle factors were measured during household visits. The PbB was measured with a flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometer and all specimens were analysed in triplicate. RESULTS: The mean (range) PbB among all study subjects was 6.5 (0.1-69.1) micrograms/dl; among males it was 7.3 (0.1-69.1) micrograms/dl and among females 5.7 (0.1-40.1) micrograms/dl). The mean (range) systolic blood pressure among all subjects was 123 (80-210) mm Hg, among males it was 127 (80-200) mm Hg and among females 119 (80-210) mm Hg. The diastolic blood pressure among all subjects was 78 (40-150) mm Hg; among males it was 80 (40-130) mm Hg; and among females 75 (40-150) mm Hg. Age, body height, body weight, and body mass index (BMI) were significantly correlated with systolic blood pressure or diastolic blood pressure in both sexes. The PbB (or the natural logarithmic transformed PbB) was not significantly correlated with blood pressure among males or females. After adjustment for the potential confounders of age, age2, BMI, milk intake, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking, systolic blood pressure was significantly associated with PbB among males with a regression coefficient (beta) of 0.185 (p = 0.015). No significant association between PbB and blood pressure was found among females. CONCLUSIONS: From this study, only a weak association between systolic blood pressure and PbB was found among males. There was no strong evidence that PbB was a good predictor of blood pressure. However, the possibility that long term high body lead burden could cause high blood pressure could not be ruled out on the basis of this survey.
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