When is comes to your kids heart, Play smart

October 5, 2017

When It Comes to Your Kid’s Heart, Play Smart!

By: Siddharth Patel, MD, Pediatric Cardiologist at Jackson Purchase Medical Center

Heart disease isn’t just for adults. Children can be impacted as well, with a variety of heart conditions that are present at birth, referred to as congenital heart diseases such as hole in the heart, abnormal heart valve, missing one pumping chamber of the heart or conditions that develop afterwards, referred to as acquired heart diseases such as diseases of heart muscle, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood lipid level.  In fact, according to facts published by the Children’s Heart Foundation, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects, affecting nearly one in 100 newborns. Still, thanks to today’s advanced cardiac care and with some help and encouragement from parents and guardians, children with heart disease can still lead active lives and take steps early on to protect their heart health for the long run.

Food for thought
It’s never too early to steer your child toward a healthy path. And establishing good eating habits that promote their heart health is a great way to begin.

  • Introduce your child to heart-friendly foods that are low in salt and added sugars.
  • Serve water at meals and limit beverages that have added sugars.
  • Teach your child to read the nutrition labels on the foods they eat and show them the good-for-you, natural ingredients to keep an eye out for. Try a grocery store game to find the cereal or snack with the healthiest ingredients.
  • Introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables into daily meals and let them discover their favorites.

Most importantly, make it fun. Getting your child invested early on will help prepare them for a lifetime of heart-healthy eating.

Get moving
Sixty minutes of physical activity every day can not only protect your child’s heart health but also help them sleep better, boost their mood and improve concentration later on when it’s time to do homework. Make sure to engage them in a variety of activities to keep things interesting.

  • Make it a family affair and pick a couple of times a week to exercise together. Whether it’s an evening neighborhood walk after dinner, a friendly kickball game in the backyard or an afternoon at the park, being together always makes it more fun.
  • Put on some fun music and let your children have their very own Saturday afternoon dance party.
  • Encourage your children to look for opportunities to be active throughout the day, like taking the stairs or picking a parking spot a little farther away so you can walk up to the store.

Stay in the know
Schedule annual physical exams for your family with your primary care doctor so that you can stay up to date and in the know on important numbers that affect your child’s heart health, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Understanding these numbers and what they mean can help ensure that your child is on the right path to optimum heart health. If your child need to see pediatric cardiologist, use our Physician Finder or call 270-251-4065 to set up an appointment today.

Introducing your child to healthy habits today is the best thing you can do for their heart, and yours.