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Heart Disease Prevention: Early Signs of Heart Damage in Teens

| Date Posted: 6/8/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans, for both men and women.  In fact, 1 in every 4 deaths occur as a result of heart disease every year. (Source: CDC) Heart disease is a broad term used to umbrella an array of diseases including coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems, and congenital heart defects.  The term heart disease is also used to cover cardiovascular diseases, which include narrowed or block arteries, chest pain or stroke. (Source: Mayo Clinic) Some risk factors for heart disease include age, obesity, family history, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

A new study presented at the 2012 Heart Failure Congress on May 19-22 is intriguing, especially since obesity and age are major risk factors.  The new report shows that teens without heart disease are showing heart damage.  The study took 97 adolescents -- 32 lean, 33 overweight and 32 obese -- all with no symptoms of heart disease. The study found that the adolescents that were obese had damaged hearts with thicker walls and impaired heart function.

“Education on healthy food and exercise is needed in schools to prevent obesity and early cardiovascular disease in adolescents,” said lead author Gani Bajraktari, professor of internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Pristina in Kosovo. “This is an important step in preventing obesity and cardiovascular disease in adults.”

Outside of this study, normal weight teens that have a strong family history of heart disease or high cholesterol have been shown to have early stage heart disease and would benefit from making diet and exercise changes at an early age.

Living a proactive lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of heart disease. Risk prevention could include exercising, eating healthier and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. According to the Center of Disease Control, studies have shown that lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of

  • Dying from heart disease.
  • Having a nonfatal heart attack.
  • Needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty.
  • For people without heart disease, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk for developing heart disease.

If you are someone who is at high risk of heart disease or currently has heart disease, FirstHealth has options for you.  FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in partnership with Pinehurst Surgical has all the resources you need when it comes to weight loss and weight-loss surgery.  Our comprehensive Bariatric Surgical Program serves patients in the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of North Carolina and beyond.  Call (800) 213-3284 with questions or for more information.

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