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How To Keep Your Child's Heart Healthy. By. Dr. Sunita Maheshwari, Pediatric Cardiologist

Sunday, May 11, 2008
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...The World Health Organization predicts that India will have 100 million, or 60 percent of the world's heart patients by 2010. The statistics are growing and are frightening. We could blame it on genetics or destiny. But the truth of the matter is that its time we took our destiny and that of our kids into our own hands.

Heart attacks occur because of blockage of the blood vessels supplying the heart by plaque ("fat!"). Preventive measures can ensure a healthy heart for a lifetime. The


Heart healthy eating habits need to be initiated at a young age when oatmeal may still be considered `yum'. For the modern day kid a treat means an outing to Pizza Hut or a Burger and fries joint. What happened to our good old idlis (sans the ghee!) and curd rice?
•    Start heart healthy foods (Table 1) As soon as your children start eating solids, place heart healthy foods at the dining table. What children are given
     to eat is what children continue eating later in life. Use cooking methods that require less oil: boil, broil, bake, roast, poach, steam, saute, stir-fry, or
Table 1
Oatmeal, whole grain cereals
Brown bread
Pulses, rice, pasta
Chicken and fish (avoid mutton and lamb-`red meats')

Don't let your kids become couch potatoes. Limit the much-loved television to 1 hour a day.  Set that rule from the day they begin watching TV. Ensure at least half an hour of vigorous activity 3-4 times per week. Initiate a sport like tennis or swimming or a game of cricket or football-that they can begin to enjoy. Nothing like a pulse racing activity to keep that heart toned and beating strongly.

Smoking doesn't just happen. Its peer pressure, advertisements, machismo, adult role models. Set an example yourself by avoiding cigarettes. Talk about it to your children when they're at the age that they can comprehend and perhaps subconsciously engrain the idea that cigarettes are a no-no for their heart and lungs.

Teach them techniques to de-stress effectively like yoga, deep breathing, relaxing walks, a warm oil massage and a positive attitude to life.

If you start your children onto a heart healthy lifestyle when they're young, they'll have a lot to thank you for as the years roll on..

Dr Sunita Maheshwari,
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Cardiology
Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist and HOD
Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore



User Comments

30 November, 2011 | faizan | Reply

faizan hi doc, i'm faizan, thanks 4 ur advice i,m trying 2 avoid pizza,s burger,s and rice etc at night.

29 August, 2011 | Tara | Reply

Tara Dear Dr Maheshwari
One of the sub topics in the doctoral thesis of a friend of mine was on effect of certain foods its effect on cognition in school kids and.... of the many foods she gave them (idli, dosa, pongal, bread, parathas etc) and tested them using scientific testing methods /tools and... curd rice stood out as the best.

01 September, 2011 | Dr Sunita Maheshwari | Reply

Dr Sunita Maheshwari Dear Tara, that is interesting. Presumably the curd rice has carbohydrates as well as the calcium in addition to dal that they sprinkle on (protein) so clearly a good combination for kids. Thanks much!

01 September, 2011 | Sharon | Reply

Sharon I am helping my daughter do a poster project for school on "What makes a heart healthy?" I think that this sums up the info. I was looking for in a nutshell. It's brief but straight to the point & detailing. Thank you for this information. I really found it helpful.

22 July, 2010 | i-link fta | Reply

i-link fta Its a great article its a knowledgeable.

23 January, 2010 | Mrinal Jhangiani | Reply

Mrinal Jhangiani Dear Ms. Rana,
Thank you for your positive feedback.
I will pass your message on to Dr. Maheshwari.
Dr. Maheshwari is one India's leading Pediatric Cardiologists who has devoted her life and work to improving India's children's heart health. She is head of Pediatric cardiology at Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital in Bangalore.
She and her husband have made it their life's passion to help those less fortunate.
Should you ever need advice from her, she can be reached at -

Wishing your daughter good health!

23 January, 2010 | madhu singh rana | Reply

madhu singh rana thank u so much it was very knowdgeable for me,actually my daughter of 10 yrs had sufferd rumatic fever 5 yrs ago since than i ahve this fear about her having heart probs in future.

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