Before the advent of echocardiography, the rate of congenital heart disease was 5-8 per 1,000 live births. After performing echocardiogram, it was found that 10-12 children per 1,000 live births had non-stenotic bicuspid aortic valve defects and 5% have septal defects, according to an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Owing to these figures, pediatric cardiologists say that it is crucial to raise a heart healthy child. Adults are inclined towards keeping their hearts protected, but have you ever thought about your little ones? Teach them to make good lifestyle choices from a young age, which will continue throughout their life. Here are a few ways to ensure cardiovascular wellness for your children.
1. Reduce Screen Time
Today’s generation, especially in the times of the coronavirus pandemic, has become extremely prone to electronic gadgets. Be it TV, laptops, phones or tablets, parents must limit the daily screen time. For children, particularly aged 2-5, it must be only one hour a day, otherwise, it might lead to a sedentary lifestyle, with constantly snacking on junk food and increasing heart risk.
2. Physical Exercise
Young children must indulge in at least half an hour of outdoor games daily. To keep them motivated, let them enjoy their favourite sport or activity outside. It could be running, swimming, cycling, swinging or simply taking a walk down the street. During the lockdown, make them do some form of household chores like mowing the garden or getting grocery together.
3. Healthy Eating Habits
The child should have low-fat dairy products in moderation, if they are able to them tolerate well. Whole grains and loads of proteins, nuts and fish must also be a part of their regular diet. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, free of calories and sodium, but high in the necessary vitamins, minerals and fibers. Cut down on the consumption of fried food or sweets, which are packed with cholesterol and sugar.
4. Avoid Passive Smoking
Pediatric cardiologists warn parents against smoking in the same room as their little ones. Children who are exposed to regular tobacco smoke have an increased risk of heart issues once they grow up. In fact, symptoms might start to show even at a young age. Additionally, as a responsible parent, try to notice if the older children are smoking in school or college. You must check this before it becomes an addiction.
5. Sleep Well
Instead of allowing late night calls and movies, encourage children to sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night. It has been found that people who do not get enough rest are at a great risk of cardiovascular diseases. Insomnia often leads to high blood pressure, which is directly linked with heart difficulties. Therefore, ensure your child is getting undisturbed and good quality sleep to avoid any health problems.
Did you know that laughing often can also keep the little hearts healthy and safe? The endothelium dilates or expands, which leads to an increase in blood flow. Taking these simple steps can go a long way to support the heart health of children.