Heart Disease and Our Children
In 1985, a multi-institutional study, Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth (PDAY), was organized to document the natural history of atherosclerosis (the progressive narrowing of arteries due to the build up of cholesterol and plague) in young subjects. Over the next several years nearly 3,000 subjects aged 15 to 34 who had died of accidents, homicides, or suicides were evaluated by autopsy for the prevalence and extent of atherosclerosis. The results of this study were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 281:727, 1999). A few key findings are provided below:
A few of the key conclusions provided by the PDAY researchers were:
It should be noted that 44% of the subjects in PDAY were smokers and smoking is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.
If atherosclerosis begins in youth, I believe that as parents we have a responsibility to educate our children about the risk factors for heart disease and to help them implement prevention strategies in an effort to prevent or delay the onset of heart disease in their own lives. And, if one of the key recommendations offered by the researchers is to modify risk factors as early as possible, do we as parents know if our children currently have one or more of the risk factors? In conclusion, primary prevention of heart disease must begin in childhood or adolescence.
Submitted by Lynn Perkes, Wellness Committe