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Heart Health Begins in Childhood

HeartHealthChildhoodJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

The development of heart disease is a lifelong process that increases slowly and steadily, and then rises sharply as we age. Often diagnosed later in life, new research suggests that atherosclerosis, plaque buildup on artery walls, can begin in childhood, supporting the belief that cardiovascular disease manifests very early in life, decades before a heart attack might occur. As prevention is often the key to good health, parents of young children, adolescents and teens can take preventative steps early on to modify risk factors and avoid or minimize the risks of heart problems in adulthood.

Harvard Health Publications notes that with atherosclerosis beginning in youth, a 50-year old American male has a one-in-two risk of developing heart disease during his remaining years. However, a man who has no risk factors, who has normal cholesterol, normal blood pressure, maintains a healthy weight, and doesn’t smoke or have diabetes has a “remarkably low 5% risk of developing cardiovascular disease by age 95, and can expect to live 11 years longer than a man with two or more risk factors and a 69% chance of heart disease.”

The role of vitamin D:

In adults, evidence shows that low levels of vitamin D are linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. In Toronto, Canada, an ongoing collaborative program, involving researchers and pediatricians at St. Michael’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children, monitors well visits of over 5000 children from birth through adolescence. With the goal of optimizing growth and development, and identifying links between early childhood and adult health, researchers and pediatricians look to implement solutions for common health problems that can lead to life-long health problems, including heart disease, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. In children, researchers have found a “statistically significant association” between higher vitamin D levels and lower levels of artery clogging LDL cholesterol, suggesting sufficient vitamin D in early life may aid in reducing cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood.

Lifestyle factors:

Per the American Heart Association, one in three American children and teens are overweight or obese, resulting in a wide range of health problems that were not seen before adulthood just a few decades ago. Risk factors, including hypertension, high cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity related depression and low self-esteem, often follow children into adulthood, significantly increasing cardiovascular disease prevalence and shortening life expectancy. Identifying children at risk for developing heart disease with regular blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, along with healthy lifestyle early interventions of improved diet, increased physical activity, and weight loss, can help to prevent heart issues later in life and support long-term health and longevity.

Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, and unlike genetically high cholesterol or high blood pressure, smoking is a controllable risk factor. Statistics show most adult smokers began smoking in high school, and that most teens who take up smoking have parents who smoke. Fortunately, many teens find smoking unhealthy and are avoiding what can become a lifelong addictive habit. Research shows that teens who finish high school smoke-free are not likely to start.

By a large measure, parents can influence their children’s behavior by encouraging healthy eating and regular aerobic activity, as well as discouraging teen smoking and setting a good example by not smoking themselves. A high fiber, balanced and varied heart healthy diet encourages a lifetime of healthy eating. It’s very important that children grow up knowing that in adulthood, they will be largely responsible for their own health and wellbeing. As atherosclerosis begins early in life, prevention should begin early as well.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other quality supplements to support children and teens health and wellness:

Childrens Formula...ON SALE Children’s Formula Life Extension Mix™ by Life Extension – These kid-friendly chewables provide essential vitamins and minerals, plus phytonutrients, amino acids, phospholipids and probiotics in support of healthy development. Specifically formulated for children aged four and older. Natural berry and vanilla flavoring.

Vitamin D3 Gummies...ON SALE Vitamin D3 Gummies for Kids by Nordic Naturals – One daily serving provides 400 IU of vitamin D3, 100% of the daily value for children aged four and older. This highly absorbable vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol provides safe and effective support for healthy childhood development. Natural fruit flavor and vegetable color. Gluten and dairy free, Non-GMO formulation.

Junior NutrientsJunior Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations – This complete hypo-allergenic, bioavailable multivitamin, mineral chelate and trace element formula is designed to support overall health for children over age four through the teenage years. Small capsules for easy swallowing.

Ultra Preventive...Ultra Preventative® Kids Orange by Douglas Laboratories – This great tasting chewable provides a full spectrum of bioavailable vitamins, minerals and trace elements, along with additional vitamin D3, in support of healthy growth and development. Gluten, soy and dairy free, hypoallergenic formulation. No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Does the road to heart health start in childhood? http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/HSmart/children_risk_factors.cfm
Arteriosclerosis/Atherosclerosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/home/ovc-20167019
Prevention of Heart Disease Starts in Childhood. http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=prevention-of-heart-disease-starts-in-childhood-1-2073
Does heart disease begin in childhood? https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150715155323.htm
Overweight in Children. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp
Obese Children Have Greater Risk for Adult Heart Disease. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/obese-children-have-greater-risk-for-adult-heart-disease/
TARGet Kids The origins of good health. http://www.sickkids.ca/paediatricmedicine/research-activities/targetkids/index.html
Premature heart disease. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/premature-heart-disease