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Heavy Metals Exposure and Heart Disease

Heavy Metal Exposure and Heart Disease

Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead are well-known to be extremely toxic to your body. Countless studies have found they can damage brain cells, cause organ toxicity, accelerate physical aging, and even increase the risk of cancer by damaging your DNA (1).

But now, new research is surfacing that indicates heavy metal exposure could significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Heavy Metals & Heart Disease

Epidemiologists, or scientists who study disease within populations of people, have become increasingly concerned over the link between heavy metals and heart disease.

One meta-analysis conducted by a group of epidemiologists evaluated over 37 different studies on the topic. They concluded that exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium, and copper is associated with an increased risk of CVD and coronary heart disease (2).

“It’s clear from our analysis that there’s a possible link between exposure to heavy metals or metalloids and risk of conditions such as heart disease, even at low doses—and the greater the exposure, the greater the risk,” explains Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead scientist of the meta-analysis (3).

So not only can heavy metals promote the development of CVD, but there’s also what scientists call a dose-response relationship. In other words, the higher the exposure, the greater the risk. Even worse, researchers have found that the negative effects of heavy metals can occur with exposure levels well below what’s considered “safe” by many public health organizations (4, 5).

This means you don’t need to be exposed to high levels of heavy metals to be at risk for CVD. Chronic, low-level exposure can also adversely affect your cardiovascular system. Which means the majority of the world’s population could be subjected to the damaging effects of heavy metals.

How Heavy Metals Can Damage the Heart

How Heavy Metals Can Cause Cardiovascular Harm

There are a variety of risk factors for heart disease, from family history to lifestyle. Here are three ways that heavy metals can damage the heart and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

1. Heavy Metals Contribute to Oxidative Stress

Cardiovascular disease often begins with atherosclerosis—the narrowing of arteries from the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol). In other words, one the primary causes of CVD is oxidative stress (6). 

One of the main ways in which heavy metals damage your body is through oxidative stress (7). By increasing oxidative stress, heavy metals can promote atherosclerosis, which leads to CVD (8).

Studies have also found that heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead compromise your body’s ability to defend itself from oxidative stress. Heavy metals bind to and cripple glutathione—an antioxidant that serves as a powerful defense against oxidative stress (9, 10). This leaves you much more vulnerable to the harmful cardiovascular effects of heavy metals.

2. Heavy Metals Trigger Inflammation

Arsenic, cadmium, and lead exposure can also cause chronic inflammation which plays a pivotal role in oxidative stress and CVD (11, 12).

In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, inflammation is a primary risk factor of CVD because it promotes atherosclerosis (13).

Many experts now believe that systemic inflammation is one of the biggest underlying causes of heart disease (more so than elevated cholesterol), and is a major risk factor for many diseases (14).

3. Heavy Metals Can Cause High Blood Pressure

Since the oxidative stress caused by heavy metals leads to fatty plaque deposits in the arteries, it can also significantly raise your blood pressure (15). High blood pressure, as you may know, can markedly increase your risk of developing heart disease or a heart attack (16).

Exposure to lead is a well-known culprit of raising blood pressure. Effects are seen with blood lead levels as low as 0.10 umol/L. And because lead is stored in bone, it is gradually released back in the body. This means that even childhood exposure to lead can have lasting effects (17).

Additionally, other studies have found that arsenic, antimony and tungsten exposure are associated with high blood pressure and CVD (18, 19, 20). 

Read More: How Blueberries Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Common Sources of Heavy Metal Exposure

Since there are so many different ways in which heavy metals can promote heart disease, it makes them a huge concern; especially since it only takes small doses to experience the negative effects. Here are some of the most common ways you can be exposed to heart-damaging heavy metals:

  • Antimony: furniture, ceramics, gun powder, food, drinking water, and certain prescription drugs.
  • Arsenic: soil, crops, fertilizer, tobacco, drinking water, rice, cereals, and dairy products.
  • Cadmium: batteries, metal jewelry, chocolate, grains, second-hand cigarette smoke, fertilizer, and plastics.
  • Lead: old house paint, gun powder, batteries, drinking water, lipstick, lead-glazed ceramics, dust, imported canned foods.
  • Mercury: seafood, corn syrup, rice, beauty products, old dental fillings, and broken fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Tungsten: air pollution, drinking water, food, and industrial pollution.

Minimizing the Risks of Heavy Metals

With all the sources of exposure out there, it’s impossible to completely eliminate heavy metals from your life. So how do you protect yourself? Try these strategies to potentially minimize the damaging effects of heavy metals.

Detox Accumulated Heavy Metals

When you’re exposed to heavy metals, they don’t just leave the body once the damage is done. Instead, they accumulate in your tissues where they can continuously wreak havoc on your health.

This is why detoxing heavy metals from the body is a popular strategy. Nano-sized natural liquid zeolite  can travel to where heavy metals tend to accumulate. From there, they bind to heavy metals like a magnet and escort them out of the body.

Fight Oxidative Stress with Antioxidants

Since most of the damage caused by heavy metals is the result of oxidative stress, getting plenty of food-based antioxidants in your diet is an excellent idea. Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative stress.

When you eat antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables, you give your body a fighting chance against oxidative stress. This means antioxidants could minimize the adverse effects of heavy metals.

If you have a tough time getting enough antioxidant-rich foods in your diet on a regular basis, an organic green juice powder would be your best bet. You can also increase your intake of antioxidant-rich herbs.

The Bottom Line

Most people are well aware that low levels of physical exercise, high blood pressure, and genetics can impact your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) later on in life. But did you know that a growing body of evidence suggests that heavy metals can also increase your risk of CVD?

That’s because heavy metal exposure may contribute to high blood pressure, rampant oxidative stress and systemic inflammation in the body. This, in turn, causes a wide range of cardiovascular health complications like plaque buildups, high blood pressure, and even arterial dysfunction.

Popular strategies to protect yourself from the negative effects of heavy metals include detoxifying with zeolite, getting plenty of antioxidants to combat oxidative stress.