How Parents Can Get Their Kids Heart Healthy

Ensuring children get the proper nutrition is a vital part of ensuring their heart health, says renowned cardiovascular surgeon and president of the Heart Health Foundation, Dr. John Martin. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in three children and teens are overweight, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. And the risk for high blood pressure in American teens and children increased 27 percent over 13 years, a new study published in the August issue of the journal Hypertension reports.

Good eating habits start early and will last throughout life, says Dr. Martin. Here is his heart health advice for kids:

1. Have your child screened for heart disease. It’s never too early to start screening for cardiovascular disease, especially with the rise in childhood obesity. Many doctors don’t believe that heart screenings are necessary for everyone. But Dr. Martin believes everyone should be screened for cardiovascular disease, including children. “They can get used to the process as part of their standard healthcare as they age,” Martin says.

2. Provide the proper nutrition. Make sure kids get:

  • The proper portions (2,200 calories a day for a 14-18-year-old boy, 1,800 for girls)
  • Healthy snacks
  • Fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and low-fat proteins such as fish
  • Foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars

3. Make sure they exercise. Instead of watching TV or playing video games, make sure kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.

  • The exercise must include activities that raise heart rate
  • Find an exercise that your child likes
  • Make it a habit or routine part of the day
  • You can break it up to two 30-minute sessions if necessary.
  • It’s a great way to start the day

4. Maintain ideal body weight. Define the optimal BMI for your child based on his or her height and body style.

5. Don’t let them start smoking. It’s the easiest way to stop a bad habit.

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The Heart Health Foundation’s Dare to Care program is a nonprofit that provides FREE heart screenings. Since 2000, the program has helped more than 40,000 patients. There are 19 Dare to Care screening sites around the country in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health problem in the United States today. More than half of all Americans will die from complications of atherosclerosis, the root of cardiovascular disease. And one million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year in the U.S. — that means 2 out of every 5 deaths in the United States, or one life every 33 seconds.         

The Heart Health Foundation believes this problem can be dramatically curbed – and it all starts with heart screenings.

(Disclosure: I am not a Doctor. The post information was provided by a Doctor however please follow your own Doctor’s orders when it comes to your health.)

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