Zip code determines risk of heart attack

By Glenna Milberg, Reporter, gmilberg@Local10.com
Ben Candea, Senior Web Producer, bcandea@local10.com
Published On: Nov 18 2013 02:39:48 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 18 2013 11:00:00 PM EST

Your zip code better determines your risk of a heart attack than your genetic code.

MIAMI -

Your zip code better determines your risk of a heart attack than your genetic code, according to the U.S. surgeon general and Dr. Pedro Greer, the chair of the Department of Humanities, Health, and Society at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine.

"It's income, it's education. It's other social determinants -- racism, violence, gun violence that occurs in these areas," said Greer. "Eighty percent of all diseases in this country are caused by non-biologic factors. However, we don't teach that to doctors and we don't address it publicly."

UNHEALTHIEST ZIP CODES: Miami-Dade | Broward

While some neighborhoods have big markets with fresh, healthy choices, others have limited supplies, fatty meats, and fried foods, and market owners supply their customers' habits.

"What the people want I get," said Adam Najjar with Friends Mini Market. "I'm a getter for them."

Judy Crosby travels several zip codes to buy things she couldn't when her children were young.

"When they was coming up, they didn't eat healthy because they couldn't afford to," she said.

In working class zip codes, cheap fast food saves time; in immigrant-heavy zip codes, some cultural diets are cardiac disaster; and, in poorer zip codes, people who scramble to provide may have no time to work out.

"One of the best of course is going to be Pinecrest, it's going to be Coral Gables," said Greer. "And, the very poor areas are the more inner city areas, the Little Havana area, the Overtown, Miami Gardens."

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration identified the zip codes with the most cardiac-related diagnoses: Hialeah's 33010 and 33012; southwest Miami-Dade County's 33165; Miami's 33142 and 33147; and, Broward County's 33311, 33321, 33063, and 33313.

"It's a choice that each individual makes," said Jimmy Whiteman, who lives healthily in one of South Florida's highest at-risk zip codes. "If you look around and search, you will find."

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