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Americans misguided about heart disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Today is National Child Health Day. Heart disease remains the number one killer in America. According to a new poll, Americans are misguided about heart disease prevention. A survey from the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) shows that most Americans believe heart disease begins in adulthood. Alarmingly, few parents set a good example to ensure a lifetime of health for their children when it comes to heart disease prevention.

The survey findings are released to educate the public about preventing heart disease. Over sixty one percent of Americans do not understand the basics of heart disease prevention. Less than four in ten Americans realize that heart disease prevention begins in childhood.

Laura Hayman, Ph.D., RN, a member of the PCNA Board of Directors and a leading researcher on obesity and cardiovascular disease in children, adolescents, and families says, "This is a wake up call for parents and their children in particular. Some strides have been made; however, since more and more children are currently overweight, they are more likely at risk for obesity-related conditions later in life such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes." Obesity in childhood sets the stage for heart disease later in life, yet the message to parents has not seemed clear.

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The researchers say ninety two percent of Americans are still at risk for heart disease despite targeted educational campaigns.

Seventy percent of respondents said they would not want their children to follow their own unhealthy eating habits because they are a poor example. Less than one third surveyed follows a heart healthy diet.

"We are at a critical juncture," explains Hayman. "It is imperative for parents to lead by example with an all encompassing heart-healthy lifestyle, making the necessary changes both in diet and physical exercise."

A new campaign from the PCNA, called “Family at Heart” has been launched to help educate parents and children about heart disease prevention. Lifestyle changes that include increased activity, focus on increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and curbing obesity are needed to keep the upward trend seen in heart disease from spiraling out of control.