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Ecological analysis of associations between groundwater quality and hypertension and cardiovascular disease in rural Saskatchewan, Canada using Bayesian hierarchical models and administrative health data.

Ecological analysis of associations between groundwater quality and hypertension and cardiovascular disease in rural Saskatchewan, Canada using Bayesian hierarchical models and administrative health data.

Environ Res. 2018 Jul 31;167:329-340

Authors: McLeod L, Bharadwaj L, Epp TY, Waldner CL

Abstract
Associations between groundwater quality and the prevalence of hypertension and ischemic heart disease were investigated in rural areas of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The partially ecological study was analyzed using Bayesian hierarchical models to account for spatial variability in risk. Exposure measures and health outcomes were estimated based on previously collected water quality surveillance data from public water supplies and private wells and administrative health data. Water quality exposures for each study region were estimated by applying geostatistical techniques to arsenic concentrations and principal component (PC) scores. The PC scores summarized groups of parameters measuring either health standards or aesthetic objectives described by the province. Generalized linear mixed models with a log link assessed associations between water quality and observed count of health outcomes relative to the expected value. The Bayesian models contained uncorrelated and spatially correlated random effects for each geographic region. Effect estimates were controlled for sex and age by stratification of case and expected case counts, for smoking by inclusion of sex- and age-specific prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as a surrogate covariate, and for education and income by use of census data. There was no evidence for associations between groundwater arsenic concentrations in public or private water supplies and increased risk of hypertension or cardiovascular disease. An increase in the second aesthetic objectives PC score from public supplies was associated with a protective effect against ischemic heart disease. This PC value summarized hardness and magnesium Similarly, an increase in the second aesthetic objectives PC in private supplies was associated with decreased prevalence of hypertension. The results of this study are consistent with others demonstrating a relationship between elevated hardness and magnesium concentrations in drinking water and reduced risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Further investigation is warranted with individual exposure history, particularly with respect to the potential beneficial effect of hard water on the prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

PMID: 30092455 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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