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What parents can do to protect kids from heart disease

AHA news: what parents can do to protect kids from heart disease

The consequences of heart disease usually do not appear until someone reaches adulthood. Why are busy parents thinking about this with their kids?

“Because it may be easier to prevent cardiac risk factors from developing than trying to get rid of them once they develop,” says Boston Children’s Hospital said Dr. Sarah de Ferranti, a pediatric cardiologist. “Prevention is really key.”

Most people don’t consider risk factors in childhood, says DeFerranti, who is also an associate professor Said Harvard Medical School Pediatrics Ph.D. “But I think it’s actually essential that we all start doing this.”

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association cycle , only 2.2% of children aged 2 to 19 received the “best score” in the scoring system including diet, body “Best” scores for activity and body mass index. While nearly 57 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds scored higher, that dropped to 14 percent among 11- to 19-year-olds.

Protecting a child’s heart health can start by focusing on the mother’s health during and even before pregnancy, Circulation study and pediatric cardiologist at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. But if you have a child and you haven’t thought about their heart health, “now is the time to start,” she says.

Perak and DeFerranti made this suggestion.

Start with eating

A healthy diet is essential for heart health. They are also hard to figure out.

“I think the first thing is to understand, what is healthy food?” said Perak, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Northwestern University. She recently helped write an update to the heart health scoring system, now called Life’s Essential 8. It measures eight factors for heart health in children and adults: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, weight, blood lipids (cholesterol and other fats), blood sugar and blood pressure.

To help families understand the composition of a healthy diet, Perak uses the Ministry of Agriculture’s MyPlate method. It envisions a diet in which half the food is vegetables and fruits, one quarter is lean protein, one quarter is whole grains, and dairy.

be patient

De Ferranti says that for picky eaters, a light touch can pay off. She found that it was effective to offer fruits and vegetables first when children were most hungry, “rather than having a major battle around eating a specific amount”.

De Ferranti said it’s a long game that may require multiple exposures to healthy foods. “Try, try, try. Try again. Keep at it.”

Keep them moving

Exercise can start young, Perak says. “Even with infants, you might consider making them active in terms of tummy time, rather than confining them to a harness and high chair for extended periods of time.”

de Ferranti said physical activity should be part of families’ schedules, whether through formal classes or just playing in the park. However, activities should be age-appropriate and appropriate to the child’s interests.

Perak has patients who like to dance or do simple exercises at home. Organised sports can be “super helpful,” Perak said. But they can also increase stress and shorten sleep time if they push too hard.

sleep on it

A sleepy child may be less likely to be physically active or may crave unhealthy foods in search of a burst of energy. For example, lack of sleep has been linked to childhood obesity.

According to the American Heart Association, the daily amount of sleep children need to promote recovery, improve brain function and reduce the risk of chronic disease varies by age : 4 to 12 months old 12 to 16 hours (including naps); 1 to 2 years old 11 to 14 hours; 3 to 5 years old 10 to 13 hours; 6 to 12 years old 9 to 12 hours; 13 to 18 Children aged 8 to 10 hours.

Come up with a bedtime routine to allow time for calming activities. “There are definitely studies showing that maintaining consistent bedtimes is associated with children getting enough sleep,” Perak said.

Children can also have high blood pressure

De Ferranti says that knowing your child’s blood pressure number is important, but measuring it in a child is tricky. The number considered high blood pressure varies by age, height and gender.

“Your pediatrician should be your first choice,” she said.

Understand the importance of mental health

De Ferranti says mental health is important for heart health. Stressful events in childhood are associated with unhealthy behaviors and cardiovascular problems later in life.

During the last two years of the pandemic, de Ferranti saw the effects of stress in real time. “I see a lot of young people showing up in my pediatric cardiology practice with high blood pressure or other symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations or dizziness.”

According to the 2021 Surgeon General’s Report on Adolescent Mental Health, which provides advice for young adults, parents, professionals and educators that parents should watch for these and other signs of distress in their children and Get help.

Ready to change

De Ferranti says parents need to be vigilant about anything related to parenting.

For example, a decade ago, the health risks of e-cigarettes were unknown. Now, scientific evidence shows that vaping can harm cardiovascular health.

“We have to be flexible,” she said, “because the world keeps changing.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself

“Think of it as a long game,” DeFerranti stressed. “There’s always another day to try a healthier diet or get more sleep or get out and exercise.”

She said “All in all, this is About overall pretty good – not perfect.”

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Citation : What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Children from Heart Disease (August 4, 2022) Retrieved August 24, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/ news/2022-08-parents-kids-heart-disease.html

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