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Screening a Child for Heart Disease?!

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The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends routine screening for heart disease in children between the ages of 2 and 10. What?!

doctor testing kid

In another sign of the times, pediatricians are now recommending young children, even those between the ages of 2-10, get their cholesterol levels, to prevent future health problems. This is especially important for children with a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Momlogic pediatrician Dr.Cara Natterson agrees. She says, "We want parents to have every tool available in order to prevent future heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other related diseases for their children. Knowing and managing cholesterol levels is one of those tools. If the test comes back high, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are implemented."

How can you make sure your children are on a pathway to health? Dr. Cara has these tips:

1. Reduce your kids couch potato time. Put computers in the kitchen or a space where kids can be monitored. Allow younger kids no more than one hour and tweens and teens no more than two hours of "screen time" daily -- this includes computer, television, video games, iPods. (My kids get 30 minutes a day.)

2. Apply the same rules for everyone in the house, not just the child. Everyone has the same amount of screen time and exercise time, and everyone eats similar foods. Make this a family pact so as to not alienate your obese child.

3. Create activity times with Mom and Dad. One day a week, Dad takes the kids out for a physical activity, and the other day Mom does it. Kids don't want to be fat, but oftentimes, they are too young to join a gym. Demonstrate the importance of physical activity.

4. Remove soda and junk food from the household. Create a healthy family environment for everyone.

5. Limit fast food, take-out, and eating out. Prepare foods at home as a family. Eat a diet rich in calcium and fiber, and limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

6. Enforce a rule of one hour of physical activity a day. (Otherwise, they won't receive their screen time.)

Most importantly, create an environment that supports and encourages healthy choices.

next: Drink Up! You'll Live Longer
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
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Anonymous March 23, 2009, 10:19 PM

All of the above are good life habits but if you have a family history of cardiac disease you need to be even MORE proactive. All young athletes with a family history of cardiac disease need to have an EKG AND an Echocardiogram to rule out cardiac disease. Too often our young athletes do not have adequate screening and die on the court/field of sudden cardiac arrhythmias that could have been detected. I know. My son was spared because I insisted on an echo after a normal EKG. He is alive only because of this echocardiogram. He will never again be able to play competitive sports but he should live a normal life span. He is one of the few lucky ones. All too often cardiac arrythmias are diagnosed after death from sudden cardiac arrest. BE PROACTIVE, it will save your childs life.

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