Pesticide Exposure May Be Linked to Increased Heart Disease, Stroke Risks

Occupational exposure to pesticides may be associated with an increased risk for heart disease and for stroke, a new analysis suggested.

The study included 7,557 Japanese-American men from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, who were evaluated with the Occupational Safety Health Administration exposure scale. The researchers calculated hazard ratios for cardiovascular disease incidence at various levels of pesticide exposure using Cox proportional hazard models. The analysis was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Over 10 years of follow-up, the researchers reported a positive association between age-adjusted cardiovascular disease and high pesticide exposure levels (HR=1.46; 95% CI,1.10 to 1.95; P=0.009). The relationship was significant after adjusting for other risk factors as well (HR=1.42; 95% CI,1.05 to 1.92; P=0.021). When examined separately, they also reported no significant link for coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular accident incidence with pesticide exposure, citing a small number of events.

“This is the longest longitudinal study of chronic occupational pesticide exposure and its association with cardiovascular diseases, taking into account epidemiologic risk factors for cardiovascular diseases,” the researchers wrote in their clinical perspective. “Health care providers need to be aware of pesticide exposure occupational health risks, especially in the agricultural population.”

The authors also offered suggestions for the occupations perhaps most effected by exposure to pesticides.

“Long‐ and short‐term chemical exposures, especially to pesticides, need to be documented in individual medical records,” they wrote.”Farm and agricultural workers need to wear personal protective equipment and have their health monitored for cardiovascular disease outcomes.”