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Journal of Toxicology
Volume 2011, Article ID 870125, 21 pages
Review Article

Heavy Metal Poisoning and Cardiovascular Disease

1Faculty of Medicine, King Abdul Aziz University, P.O. Box 12713, Jeddah 21483, Saudi Arabia
2Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine, Faculty of Health, University of Keele, Staffordshire ST4 7QB, UK

Received 20 May 2011; Accepted 28 June 2011

Academic Editor: Dietrich Büsselberg

Copyright © 2011 Eman M. Alissa and Gordon A. Ferns. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an increasing world health problem. Traditional risk factors fail to account for all deaths from CVD. It is mainly the environmental, dietary and lifestyle behavioral factors that are the control keys in the progress of this disease. The potential association between chronic heavy metal exposure, like arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and CVD has been less well defined. The mechanism through which heavy metals act to increase cardiovascular risk factors may act still remains unknown, although impaired antioxidants metabolism and oxidative stress may play a role. However, the exact mechanism of CVD induced by heavy metals deserves further investigation either through animal experiments or through molecular and cellular studies. Furthermore, large-scale prospective studies with follow up on general populations using appropriate biomarkers and cardiovascular endpoints might be recommended to identify the factors that predispose to heavy metals toxicity in CVD. In this review, we will give a brief summary of heavy metals homeostasis, followed by a description of the available evidence for their link with CVD and the proposed mechanisms of action by which their toxic effects might be explained. Finally, suspected interactions between genetic, nutritional and environmental factors are discussed.