Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the UK. While diet and exercise are key to heart health, a cardiologist is spreading the word about another vital step to protect your child’s heart.
Protecting your child’s heart is all about diet and exercise
Heart disease is a leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. Approximately one in 200 of those individuals have an inherited form of heart disease – meaning that individuals who look healthy, eat healthy and get plenty of exercise can still be at risk of having a heart attack.
Early detection, including cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, is an important part of maintaining heart health. These simple tests give doctors important insight into how a body is working, and what risks they may have of heart disease.
While more awareness is being raised about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, parents might not be aware of the importance of a cholesterol screening for their child. After all, cholesterol isn’t usually an issue in childhood – right? Sarah Blumenschein, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern, debunks that common misconception about a child’s heart health.
“Children can develop high cholesterol as early as ages 5 or 6,” she explains. “Research is well-documented that children with a family history of heart disease, particularly among immediate family members who experienced a heart attack in their 30s or 40s, can begin to exhibit symptoms of heart disease in adolescence.”
Knowledge is power. Get your child screened.
“A child can look healthy, get plenty of exercise and eat a healthy diet and still have high cholesterol – particularly if they have a family history,” says Dr. Blumenschein.
Dr. Blumenschein encourages parents to have their children screened around the time children enter school. The US are now recommending that all children, ages 9-11, be screened for high cholesterol.
“High cholesterol is reversible, but it is undetected because there are no signs or symptoms until a heart attack,” she states. “It’s a disease that accelerates in your 20s or 30s, and the earlier its diagnosed and treated, the better your outcome will be.”
You should talk to your child’s physician about other heart health screening if you have high cholesterol in your family (FHC).
Fasting blood glucose test
Body weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) screening