IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. - Local health officials said on Friday what you eat and what you breathe might be slowly killing you by contributing to heart disease.
Pioneers Memorial Hospital Dr. Ameen Alshareef said, “Some of the heart conditions, we call them the silent killer because you don’t know about them. The high blood pressure, you don’t know about your high blood pressure unless if you go and check your blood pressure.”
That’s over 600,000 people dead annually. Children and teens are not immune.
“If your teenager is having chest pains, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, dizziness, passing out, especially when he’s exercising, this is an early flag that you need to follow up with your pediatrician,” Alshareef said.
Fast food contributes to the problem.
“High sodium, high salt on the diet, high saturated fat and not too much fruit, not too much vegetables, one out of ten Americans, indeed, eat enough fruit and enough vegetables on their diet. This is how it affects the heart,” Alshareef said.
Comite Civico del Valle Director Jose Luis Olmedo said bad air quality affects the heart as well.
“The particulates are so small they can penetrate into your lung, into your blood stream and affect many of your organs and cause cardiovascular disease. It could be traffic pollution. For example, the traffic, the lines that are made crossing the border, both sides of the border. There’s pollution coming from diesel engines,” Olmedo said.
Dr. Alshareef said regular exercise and healthy eating may help reduce some of the dangers.
“Moderate to intense exercise for 60 minutes every day or 150 minutes every week. Do more of the healthy diet. That’s the food you cook at home that’s low on sodium, low on salt, low on saturated fats. You need to do more of the fruit and more vegetables,” Alshareef said.
The website www.ivanonline.org provides information on local bad air quality days.
“We operate forty community owned air monitors. We have them located in Calexico, all throughout Imperial Valley and all around the Salton Sea,” Olmedo said.
Dr. Alshareef agrees that bad air quality can have a negative effect on the heart. He said the air quality can affect everything.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports every year over 700,000 Americans of all ages suffer a heart attack.
CORRECTION ON VIDEO: CDCP reports about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.