Short-term effect of severe exposure to methylmercury on atherosclerotic heart disease and hypertension mortality in Minamata

Sachiko Inoue, Takashi Yorifuji, Toshihide Tsuda, Hiroyuki Doi

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies suggest potential adverse effects of methylmercury exposure on myocardial infarction and hypertension, although the evidence is still limited. We thus evaluated this association using age-standardized mortality ratios (ASMRs) in Minamata, where severe methylmercury poisoning had occurred. We obtained mortality data from annual vital statistics and demographic statistics from census. We then compared mortality of atherosclerotic heart disease including degenerative heart disease and hypertension in Minamata-city with those in Kumamoto Prefecture, which includes Minamata city, as a control. We estimated ASMRs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) during the period from 1953 to 1970. ASMRs of atherosclerotic heart disease were continuously decreased during the period from 1953 to 1967. In contrast, the ASMR of hypertension was significantly elevated during the period from 1963 to 1967 (SMR = 1.38, CI; 1.06-1.80); but they decreased later. Although dilution is present in this ecological study, our study supports the notion that methylmercury exposure induces hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-293
Number of pages3
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2012



  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Hypertension
  • Methylmercury compounds
  • Minamata disease
  • Myocardial infarction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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