At high levels, inorganic arsenic exposure is linked to peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and cardiovascular disease. To our knowledge, no prior study has evaluated the association between low-to-moderate arsenic exposure and incident PAD by ankle brachial index (ABI). We evaluated this relationship in the Strong Heart Study, a large population-based cohort study of American Indian communities. A total of 2,977 and 2,966 PAD-free participants who were aged 45-74 years in 1989-1991 were reexamined in 1993-1995 and 1997-1999, respectively, for incident PAD defined as either ABI <0.9 or ABI >1.4. A total of 286 and 206 incident PAD cases were identified for ABI <0.9 and ABI >1.4, respectively. The sum of inorganic and methylated urinary arsenic species (∑As) at baseline was used as a biomarker of long-term exposure. Comparing the highest tertile of ∑As with the lowest, the adjusted hazard ratios were 0.57 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32, 1.01) for ABI <0.9 and 2.24 (95% CI: 1.01, 4.32) for ABI >1.4. Increased arsenic methylation (as percent dimethylarsinate) was associated with a 2-fold increased risk of ABI >1.4 (hazard ratio = 2.04, 95% CI: 1.02, 3.41). Long-term low-to-moderate ∑As and increased arsenic methylation were associated with ABI >1.4 but not with ABI <0.9. Further studies are needed to clarify whether diabetes and enhanced arsenic metabolism increase susceptibility to the vasculotoxic effects of arsenic exposure.
Keywords: arsenic; metabolism; peripheral vascular disease.
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