BOOK JOAN

Stop Heart Disease in its Tracks

Growing up healthy

Growing Up Healthy

Children's Health / / April 23, 2008

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Our children may be overeating their way to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, the increasing epidemic of obesity among children is setting them up for cardiovascular disease later in life. To prevent this from happening, they recommend that we do everything we can to stop our children from becoming obese as early as possible.

Do you know how a heart attack occurs? How about a stroke? Heart attacks occur when coronary arteries clog. Fat, traveling through the arteries, builds up and attaches to the coronary artery walls. The accumulation of fat creates fatty streaks, which change into plaque. Plaque creates clots in the artery that reduce the flow of blood to the heart. A stroke occurs when an artery that goes to the brain becomes clogged, or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.

We now know that too much dietary fat—particularly saturated fat and trans fats—and too much cholesterol, play a major role in the buildup of those thin, white fatty streaks that ultimately lead to heart attack and stroke. Since our children are now showing evidence of these fatty streaks as young as ten years old, it's essential that we cut down on fat.

Along with too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, an iron excess may also prove to be a risk factor for heart disease, particularly for our sons. Our bodies can use only a normal amount of iron. Iron that isn't used is stored as excess. We are now associating such excess iron with an increased risk of heart disease. Unlike our sons, after puberty, the risk for our daughters diminishes: when they begin to menstruate the excess iron is discharged monthly in blood. This may be one reason why coronary artery disease is less common in women (pre-menopausal) than men.

About The Author
Growing up healthy
In Growing Up Healthy, Joan Lunden, one of America's most trusted journalists and most visible working moms, teams up with Dr. Myron Winick, a leading expert in childhood nutrition, to produce a guide that contains the lifesaving knowledge we all need to shield our children from disease and help them grow into strong, fit adults.
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