PREVENTIVE CARDIOLOGY FOR CHILDREN
Children's Heart Center offers a preventive cardiology program because we know that many of the most important risk factors that contribute to the development of coronary artery disease and stroke in adults have their origins in childhood. These include obesity, hypertension, elevated serum lipids, cholesterol, and unhealthy lifestyles. The best medicine is prevention, and our comprehensive program facilitates that with several steps:
Each patient will have a detailed history and physical examination performed, with special attention to the family's medical history. If there are individuals in your child's immediate family who have suffered heart attacks or strokes before age 55, your child has an additional risk factor. We will also evaluate current diet and exercise habits, making recommendations based on information obtained. In addition, cholesterol values will be charted and other testing completed when indications arise.
All treatment is individualized. We stress healthy lifestyle habits, such as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco products and high-risk behaviors. Success for your child is more assured if the entire family complies with these guidelines. Treatment for elevated cholesterol always involves good nutritional advice, which may alone treat the problem. Occasionally, medications are needed to help lower cholesterol levels. The number of medications available for children is more limited than those for adults because research is still incomplete. If medication is necessary, it may be covered by insurance.
Each patient will be monitored on a regular basis. Any questions you or your child may have will be discussed during these periods. If elevated cholesterol is a problem, blood work will be obtained before each visit to monitor the levels. A blood sample should be drawn in the morning prior to the child eating breakfast.
Look To The Future
We recognize altering habits to promote a healthy lifestyle is not a simple task. To be successful, your child and the entire family must be willing to commit to the program. We want to assure you that the Children's Heart Center staff will support your efforts and guide your child to good cardiac health. Much of this assistance is provided by our on-staff registered dietician, who has extensive counseling experience in the areas of nutrition and cardiovascular risk reduction.
How do you know if your child should participate in the Preventive Cardiology program?
- Total cholesterol of greater than 170 mg/dL
- Family history of premature heart disease (first-degree male relative before the age of 55 or female relative before the age of 65)
- Family history of a parent with total cholesterol greater than 240 mg/dL
- Obesity with the need for nutrition counseling
- Exposure to risk factors of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, tobacco use, obesity, sedentary lifestyle