Childhood is supposed to be a time of great joy and discovery. After all, there are rain puddles to be plunged into, butterflies to be awed by, and wild animals to be etched in the clouds. But, as our society becomes more entrenched in consumerism, childhood is becoming an increasingly risky endeavor. Obesity and diabetes are at record highs and show no signs of lessening. Now scientists tell us there is an additional health issue for kids to worry about: heart disease.
Do we really need to worry about heart disease in seven-year-olds? Apparently so. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say heart disease begins to form in our formative years. They completed a review of medical literature, focusing on the role of high cholesterol in relation to heat disease.
"Our review of the literature convinces us that more aggressive and earlier intervention will probably prevent considerably more than 30% of coronary heart disease," said Daniel Steinberg, M.D. "Studies show that fatty streak lesions in the arteries that are a precursor to atherosclerosis and heart disease begin in childhood, and advanced lesions are not uncommon by age 30. Why not nip things in the bud?"
Steinberg and his team are quick to point out that statins are not the answer. Statins are the mainline drugs prescribed to help lower cholesterol. And, though they are largely effective, they note that a high percentage of patients on statins still have cardiac events.
So, what's the key to helping kids lower their cholesterol? According to the researchers, "...our long-term goal should be to alter our lifestyle accordingly, beginning in infancy or early childhood." They recommend people adopt a "TLC" program - "therapeutic lifestyle changes," including eating a healthier diet and getting regular exercise.
Wow - scientists who prefer positive lifestyle changes to a pill? Now we're getting somewhere.To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To find great resources to help your child lead a healthy life, see this from KidsHealth.