Parents, it starts with you. You are the first and most important
influence on the current and future health of your children. The example you set could put your children on a course for a lifetime of healthy living, especially when it comes to heart health. The health risks posed by a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and
obesity are immediate because heart health matters at any age, even in young children.
Najman, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares some easy ways that parents can set a heart-healthy example for their children while also improving their own health:
Healthy diet. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables,
you need to set the example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself. Include your children in the decision making and help guide them by discussing the benefits of the delicious fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you will eat together as a family
every night. If children grow up eating healthy foods together with their parents, eating those same foods as young adults and adults won’t feel strange or difficult at all; those same foods will be what they ate growing up.
Show your children that exercise is important by maintaining a regular workout routine. And, as often as you can, get every member of the family involved in a fun, physical activity. Jog together as a family; ride bikes together as a family; go on a brisk
evening walk together as a family. Children experience the same health benefits of exercise as adults—strong bones and muscles, maintenance of a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a regular exercise routine reduces one’s
risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and more. Get your kids moving now and they will likely maintain that active lifestyle later in life. Lead by example!
Smoke-Free. If you quit smoking, your kids are less likely to start.
Smoking is more common in teenagers whose parents smoke. If you are still smoking, quit. Secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer but it also increases the risk of multiple types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and many other medical issues as well.
Maintain a healthy weight. Today in the U.S., one child out of three is considered obese or overweight. Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, once common health issues encountered only in adulthood, have developed in children as young
as seven. Obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, increasing their risk of developing heart disease later in life. Don’t focus on weight with children; instead, shift to leading a healthy lifestyle as a family. Lifestyle changes
like eating right as a family and exercising can make all the difference.
What do you do to set a heart-healthy example for your children?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and
women. Each year, approximately 600,000 people will die of heart disease, nearly half of them women. And yet many still believe that heart disease is a man’s disease. It’s not.
There are some possible differences, however, between men and
women when it comes to heart disease. Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses these differences and the heart disease
risk factors that are the same for everyone:
Age. Men are considered at cardiovascular risk starting at 40. Women, on the other hand, are considered at cardiac risk starting at 50. That does not mean that women under the age of 50 have
no risk for heart disease, so any symptoms should not be disregarded. The incidence of heart disease between men and women equalizes around 65, and studies then show that women actually begin to surpass heart disease events in comparison to men.
Symptoms. Typically, men exhibit more classic cardiac symptoms, including pain across the chest that radiates down the arms, back and jaw, and shortness of breath. Women might display more atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness
and syncope (fainting/temporary loss of consciousness). In fact, the most common symptom in women over 80 is not chest pain but shortness of breath.
Risk Factors. The risk factors are the same for both men and women. The major
risk factors for coronary artery disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. If you think you might be at risk, see your physician for more information.
you know your risk for heart disease?
A small but mighty organ, your heart accomplishes amazing feats with every single beat. This American Heart Month, get to know your heart better.
NorthShore University HealthSystem explains the inner workings of your heart and
cardiovascular system and shares simple tips to improve your heart health in our heart health infographic.
Click on the image below for our full infographic of heart health facts:
NorthShore Hearts (#NSHearts) healthy eating and so should you. The importance
of diet on the health of your heart can’t be overstated. A balanced diet contributes to one’s overall health and wellness, including maintaining weight, but certain foods can significantly improve your heart’s health while others can damage
it. Know the difference and show your heart some love by eating heart healthy foods.
Jason Robin, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares
a few of the best and worst foods for your heart health:
You’re the Best!
You’re the Worst!
Find out what heart healthy tips and stories NorthShore hearts this American Heart Month by following #NSHearts on Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s put the heart back into February. Aside from Valentine’s Day, this month is a great time to give some heartfelt
attention to our cardiovascular systems. Small changes can be made to your day-to-day routine to help keep your heart in shape.
Hani Salti, MD, shares the following advice for ensuring a healthy heart:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through their
Million Hearts™ Initiative identifies the “ABCS” of improving cardiovascular care: Aspirin for those at risk; Blood pressure control; Cholesterol management; and Smoking cessation.
How do you keep your heart healthy?