Risk Factors, Symptoms of Heart Disease in Children, Tips to Keep Heart Healthy
Created by Sreelakshmi Updated on Jan 16, 2022
Is your child spending more time playing with his favorite videogames and PSP than he spends on playing outdoors? Does s/he spend more time watching TV and enjoying junk food? Is the hectic school work leaving him/her with little time for hobbies? If yes, its time you intervened and made conscious efforts to help your child embrace a healthy lifestyle.
One Heart, One Home, One world is the theme of the recently celebrated World Heart Day, which is celebrated every year to spread awareness and prevention measures among people across the globe about heart disease and stroke. As per stats, in India, the mean age for contracting cardiovascular diseases has fallen drastically. A decade ago, the average age of contracting heart ailments was 45 to 50 years, but today, it has come down to the late 20s to early 30s. This will worsen if adequate preventive measures and lifestyle changes are not implemented in our children’s daily routine.
What Are Risk Factors of Heart Disease in Children
As parents it is important to understand that most of the risk that affect children can be prevented early in life, lowering the risk of heart disease at later stages of life. We could help our Children and teens by keeping a watch on the following “risk factors:”
- Childhood obesity is on the rise among children in India with many suffering from the problem even before they reach adolescence. Research shows that obese young children have already been found to have high blood pressure and cholesterol and that could elevate their chances of a heart attack by as much as 40 percent.
- Lack of Physical Activity and a regular exercise regimen
- Diabetes, High blood pressure, and Cholesterol
- Increased stress levels, peer pressure, and competition
- Smoking; Children in their early teens are taking up smoking which poses the risk of heart disease at an early age.
Heart Disease Symptoms in Children
Heart disease in children is a very real problem these days. You may watch out for the following symptoms and check with your pediatrician for further clarifications.
- Respiratory Problems - Children with heart disease may exhibit signs of breathing difficulty. They may frequently need to take deep breaths. Some children even report being unable to take deep, full breaths. Please watch out if the child has trouble when playing and complains often of not getting enough oxygen
- Excessive Fatigue - Many children who suffer from heart disease may seem to lag behind their friends or just tire easily. They may prefer to sit at home, rather than playing outdoors. They may even want to take long naps during the day as compared to the short naps needed by a healthy child.
- Fainting can occur in children with heart disease. The drop in the child’s blood pressure may cause this.
- Heart Murmur-A heart murmur means an irregular heartbeat. The doctors frequently diagnose heart murmurs before the actual heart condition is found.
How to Help Keep Your Little One’s Heart Healthy
#1. A Healthy Diet
Evidence shows that eating and drinking habits established during childhood can continue for many years into adulthood. It's necessary to make the child aware that bad eating habits especially junk food could lead to serious health problems later on in their life. Therefore as parents, we are responsible to set the right example ourselves and also keep our child informed about healthy eating habits. Here are some quick tips,
- Breastfeeding your baby for at least six months is associated with lower blood pressure risks in the children when they grow up.
- Include healthy fats such as nuts, fish, vegetable, cut foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium (salt intake) and added sugars
- Include more grains and fiber such as oats, whole wheat, and brown rice.
- Fruits and Vegetables-Make sure your child gets the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day, ensure they are getting an adequate amount of vitamin C to boost their immune system.
- Spinach, greens, and broccoli are rich in folic acid, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the Harvard Medical School.
- Discourage your child from eating junk food. Reward her for healthy eating.
#2. Active & Enjoyable Lifestyles
There are plenty of Physical activities for children today. As parents, we need to first set a good example by being physically fit and active ourselves. Physical activity helps our children to grow strong bones; to maintain a healthy weight and best of all, to discover the world around them. And it's great fun when you too get involved with them. It becomes a healthy family affair for all to enjoy. Here are some ideas to get your child off the couch.
- Let them walk or cycle to the nearby school, supermarket, inside the building, as often as possible.
- Encourage them to go roller skating or skateboarding outdoors. Also, kids may love foot scooters.
- For older kids, ask them to take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have one of your own, you may ask them to accompany the friend for his/her dog.
- Encourage and support your child in a sport of his/her interest. Joining them in classes like swimming, dance, basketball, cricket either on a daily basis or weekend club basis adds on as a regular exercise.
- Martial arts and aerobics can be a fun cardiovascular workout for your child. It improves the child’s flexibility and balance, plus it’s a fantastic foundation for other sports too.
- Take time out with your child every weekend to do something active. It can be as simple as playing Frisbee or some sport in the park or even going on a family biking adventure.
- Try a beach holiday - Children love beach sports, swimming and just running around on the beach.
Healthy hearts make happy families. There is no better time than now to create a healthy and happy lifestyle for protecting our children’s hearts and gifting them habits for a good health!
Image source - Christian Credentials
| Nov 16, 2012
Usually when we think of heart disease, we tend to view it as an adults' disease, however it is true that the foundation of many physical ailments is laid in a person's initial years, as pointed out by Sreelakshmi here. Very useful insight, especially now when India is being touted as the heart disease capital of the world.. great post.. thanks!