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Most people only think of middle-aged adults or the elderly as being affected by heart disease. Children are usually thought of as having healthy hearts. Yet, consider these statistics:
- One out of every 100 babies born in the United States is born with a congenital heart abnormality.
- Nearly one million people living in the US were born with a congenital heart defect.
- Thirty-six percent of adolescents and young adults who die suddenly have a disease of the heart muscle known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- About 1.8 million Americans have rheumatic heart disease, an illness which usually strikes in childhood.
- Nearly 3,000 children a year have an illness that can damage the heart and coronary arteries known as Kawasaki disease. Most of these children are 5 years old and under.
- Risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular diseases (such as smoking, lack of exercise and high cholesterol levels) often begin at an early age.
- 4.1 million children, ages 12 to 17, are already smokers.
- More than 3,000 children under age 18 become regular, daily smokers every day.
- Nearly half of children ages 12 to 21 do not exercise on a daily basis.
- Ten to 15 percent of American children ages 6 to 17 are obese.
- At least 2 percent of children have an inherited tendency towards high cholesterol levels known as familial hyperlipidemia, predisposing them to heart disease as an adult if not treated.
- Cardiovascular disease is a prime cause of death in people under the age of 24; the second leading cause in the 0 to 14 years age group and the third leading cause in the 15 to 24 years age group.
||Some heart problems experienced by children, such as most cases of congenital (present at birth) heart defects, can be treated medically or surgically, but cannot be prevented. However, heart-healthy living habits started at an early age - sensible eating, keeping cholesterol levels low, getting regular exercise, refraining from smoking and maintaining a healthy weight - greatly diminish the risks of other cardiovascular problems such as stroke, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease developing in adulthood. |
Diagnosing and Evaluating Heart Disease in Children
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Congenital Heart Disease
Rheumatic Heart Disease
Problems Affecting the Coronary Arteries and Blood Vessels
Problems Involving Heart Rhythm
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