Mercury & Lead Dangers - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, June 16, 2003

Mercury & Lead Dangers

I'm Dr. David Vastola and Patrick & I have been doing some research on coronary artery disease, which is the number one killer of both men and women in the US.  One million people die of this disease every year so we can't lose sight of how important it is. The secret to beating this problem is the risk factors: high cholesterol, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, homocistine CRP and all those things we've talked about in the past are important. But there are two other things that may be very important that we didn't talk about: mercury and lead. That's right, they can cause heart disease. Let me tell you how.

In a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was reported that if you have elevated levels of mercury you have a higher incidence of having heart attacks. Why? Because it seems to damage the blood vessels around the heart or in the heart. Where are we getting mercury? It comes from the fish that we eat. For many years we've been advising our patients to eat fish, not beef, but guess what? Our fish are being contaminated with mercury - especially the larger fish. I'm talking about sharks, tuna, sushi, snapper and grouper - any of the bigger fish have elevated amounts of mercury in them, either high or moderate and that's where we're getting this mercury poisoning and problem.

The second is lead. When it comes to lead we actually thought we had solved the problem. In the 1970s we spewed over 400 million pounds of lead into our environment every year. Now it's 8 million. That's right, we're still spewing it into our environment and it gets into us through the food we eat, the air we breathe and the stuff that we drink. It all leads to the lead toxicity which can cause coronary heart disease and also arrythmias. So now we know we have two more risk factors: mercury and lead. And we have to check for them - it's a simple blood test - but you have to know to test it. So ask your doctor. When it comes to heart disease look at those risk factors, but don't forget about mercury and lead. Get your blood levels checked. If they're elevated, especially the mercury, don't eat fish - especially the big fish. When it comes to lead look for a source.

And I'm Dr. David Vastola and that's life.

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