Objective — Mercury has been suggested to have negative effects on cardiovascular health. We investigated the effects of high mercury content in hair on the risk of acute coronary events and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in men from eastern Finland.
Methods and Results — The population-based prospective Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) cohort of 1871 Finnish men aged 42 to 60 years and free of previous coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke at baseline was used. During an average follow-up time of 13.9 years, 282 acute coronary events and 132 cardiovascular disease (CVD), 91 CHD, and 525 all-cause deaths occurred. Men in the highest third of hair mercury content (>2.03 µg/g) had an adjusted 1.60-fold (95% CI, 1.24 to 2.06) risk of acute coronary event, 1.68-fold (95% CI, 1.15 to 2.44) risk of CVD, 1.56-fold (95% CI, 0.99 to 2.46) risk of CHD, and 1.38-fold (95% CI, 1.15 to 1.66) risk of any death compared with men in the lower two thirds. High mercury content in hair also attenuated the protective effects of high-serum docosahexaenoic acid plus docosapentaenoic acid concentration.
Conclusions — High content of mercury in hair may be a risk factor for acute coronary events and CVD, CHD, and all-cause mortality in middle-aged eastern Finnish men. Mercury may also attenuate the protective effects of fish on cardiovascular health.
Mercury may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In this study, high mercury content in hair increased the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in middle-aged Finnish men and attenuated the beneficial effects of fish oils on cardiovascular health. Regular consumption of fish with high mercury content should be avoided.