kids heart health

Kids’ Heart Health Facts

Heart disease can strike people of any age; however, it seems saddest when it strikes children. Perhaps it’s because they are young and haven’t lived their lives yet.

There are many issues children may face when it comes to heart related problems. Eight in every 1,000 children are born with congenital heart disease, a problem that directly affects the heart in many ways. Often times, the heart muscle or the valves are affected.

Atherosclerosis is a build-up of plaque within arteries. This usually starts in childhood and is caused by high cholesterol, eating the wrong foods, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking.

Children can have high blood pressure as well; its cause is usually genetic. If one or both parents have high blood pressure, the child must be monitored closely. Hypertension may also be caused by kidney or heart disease.

Today’s children play games on laptops, desktops, phones and tablets. They don’t spend much time outside playing, and this differs a lot from life as we knew it 30 years ago, when computers weren’t around and the children would “go and play outside” as a daily routine. This sedentary lifestyle causes many of the other problems that affect the heart, especially with children, because they are still growing.

Studies show that over 3.6 million American high school students smoke cigarettes and, every day, around 4,000 children try smoking for the first time. The main cause for this unhealthy behavior is peer group pressure; they see others smoking, and don’t want to be left out. Statistics show that about 90,000 people die from heart disease each year, as a direct result of smoking.

Children need to learn by example. If parents smoke or eat the wrong foods, this sends the wrong message to their children. Parents should prepare and eat healthy foods and teach children to do the same. Explaining that it will make their hearts healthy and strong is an effective, positive way of getting the message across.

Explaining why smoking is bad is another way to prevent children from smoking. It’s not enough to say “don’t smoke”; you have to give them realreasons that have the power to persuade them, because you are not with them all the time. When they’re at school, they have influences that may be bad. You want your messages to be stronger than the ones their friends are pushing.

Children think they are indestructible. They don’t believe they could get sick, have heart disease or die. It is only when they become adults and get older that those concepts slowly sink in. So you need to talk to your children in terms they understand, thus making sure that they will listen.

Children are most precious to their parents, who would do anything to keep them safe and healthy. Heart disease can be cruel and harsh. If, as a parent, you know your children are doing something that can harm their health, it is up to you to educate them on what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and find ways to help them. Children are often smart, so “playing games” to try and get them not to do certain things is usually a waste of time. Treating them as adults is the best way to help them stay healthy.

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