Cardiotoxicity of Pesticides: Are Africans at Risk?
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Cardiovascular disease has maintained the unenviable position as the number one cause of death in the world. It is now clear that the traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease are driven by primary factors like globalisation, urbanisation, industrialisation and agricultural practices. Pesticide use is an integral component of modern and improved agriculture. The abuse and misuse of these chemicals has caused significant poisoning worldwide and particularly in low- and middle-income countries where Africa belongs. This review surveys the widening population of people poisoned by pesticides in Africa and examines the possibility of pesticide-induced cardiotoxicity. The exposed group includes workers in pesticide industries, transporters of these chemicals, farmers, farm workers who apply these pesticides, vendors and sellers of farm produce and consumers of foodstuffs that are treated with pesticides as well as persons who consume water and inhale air filled with pesticides. There are numerous animal model studies that employ electrocardiography, echocardiography, enzyme studies and histopathology to demonstrate pesticide-induced cardiotoxicity in many parts of the world. There are also case reports and epidemiological data of pesticide-induced cardiovascular intoxication in man. With the increasing reports of pesticide-induced central system nervous toxicity in Africa, there are enough reasons to suspect cardiovascular system poisoning as well. The poorly developed clinical toxicology specialty may explain the low index of suspicion of pesticide-induced cardiovascular diseases. With the pervading ignorance, indiscriminate sale, unguarded use, lack of adequate legislation, inadequate enforcement of legal institutes associated with pesticide use in Africa, there is no doubt that the increasing prevalence and incidence of cardiovascular diseases may partly be due to exposure to these chemicals. Africans may after all be at risk of pesticide-induced cardiotoxicity, but more studies will be required to examine the pattern of cardiotoxicity as well as factors that modulate its occurence.
KeywordsPesticides Cardiotoxicity Africans
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interests.
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