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The Association of Prolonged QT Interval on Electrocardiography and Chronic Lead Exposure

Chen, Chien-Chou MD, MS; Yen, Hsueh-Wei MD; Lo, Yi-Hao MD; Chu, Yu-Hui BS; Chiu, Yu-Wen MD, MS; Chuang, Hung-Yi MD, ScD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 6 - p 614–619
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318291787a
Original Articles

Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the association of lead exposure with cardiac conduction disturbance among lead-exposed and nonexposed workers in Taiwan.

Methods: The participants comprised 312 lead workers and 329 referents who had no known occupational lead exposure. During their annual health examination, they were invited to take part in the survey. Standard resting 12-lead electrocardiograms were obtained and the electrocardiographic features studied were related to blood lead levels (BLLs).

Results: The mean BLLs were 26.05 (SD = 13.98) and 2.62 (SD = 1.42) μg/dL in lead-exposed and reference groups, respectively. Compared with the referents, lead workers had significantly shorter PR interval and longer QTc interval. Especially, workers with BLL > 30 μg/dL had the highest risk after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and other potential confounders.

Conclusion: The data suggest that lead exposure is positively associated with prolonged QTc interval.

From the Department of Community Medicine (Dr Chen), Zuoying Armed Forces General Hospital, and Graduate Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Dr Chen), College of Health Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Division of Cardiology (Dr Yen), Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Family Medicine (Dr Lo), Zuoying Armed Forces General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Laboratory Medicine Division (Ms Chu), Zuoying Armed Forces General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Community Medicine (Drs Chiu and Chuang), Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Department of Public Health (Dr Chuang), Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Address correspondence to: Hung-Yi Chuang, MD, MPH, ScD, Department of Community Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, and Department of Public Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, 100 Shih-Chuan 1st Road, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan (

This work was supported by the National Science Council (NSC98-2314-B-037-061-MY2) of Taiwan and a grant from the Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital (KMUH97-7R02).

Authors Chen, Yen, Lo, Chu, Chiu, and Chuang have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine