Parents Can Help Their Children Reduce Risk of Heart Attacks

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The American Heart Association estimates that 1 million children in the United States between ages 12 and 19 have metabolic syndrome. This syndrome means that children exhibit three or more controllable risk factors for heart disease, including abnormal blood lipids, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and obesity.

Overweight children really carry a big burden into adulthood and that is the increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Many people tend to associate heart disease with adults; however, recent research suggests that signs of heart disease including elevated cholesterol levels are being discovered in children as young as 7 or 8 years old. The primary issue is obesity.

Foods that contain high-fat and sodium plus and extremely sedentary life due to lack of exercise and entertainment such as computer games have sadly posed a new and dangerous threat to children's cardiovascular health.

There is good news. If families so desire, they could take rather simple steps to help their children live longer as adults. However parents must act now!

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Today, parent must become a positive role model for their children. They can start by making healthy choices in their daily routines. These choices can include, not smoking, eating right, reducing stress and being active. These are very simple heart healthy lifestyles that may get children going in the right direction. Keep in mind it is a great deal easier to convince children to be healthy if you the parent are making healthy choices as well.

Parents need to be sure they offer their children health food choices. They can start by offering children more fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains. These whole grain contain cholesterol-reducing fiber. Vital for children’s heart health is omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in foods such as salmon and herring, walnuts, flax oil and fortified eggs.

Parents need to be sure they limit their children’s intake of foods that can damage the circulatory system. Saturated or trans-fats that are found in such foods and processed foods should be avoided in general. In addition, sugar and salt should be reduced.

Finally physical activity is essential and parents should try to invest in their children’s health by having them be more active. Put the X-Box away and trade it in for a brisk walk or bike ride. Sports such as soccer, baseball, swimming or ice skating can not only be fun, but actually help save y our child’s life.
Parents need to remember to limit TV, video game and computer time to less than two hours a day and enforce it. Not only do these activities lead to a sedentary lifestyle, they also contribute to excessive snacking, which increases the risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Children can live healthier as kids and longer as adults if parents begin to set examples for healthy living habits today.

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