PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Kids often mirror what their parents do. That’s why Dr. Dena Krishnan is not surprised by new information from the American Heart Association (AHA) that shows fewer than 30% of children and young adults between 2 and19 had high scores on its newly revamped cardiovascular health scoring tool.
“Really the issue is we’re just not moving around enough [and] our diet can usually use some improvements,” said Dr. Krishnan, who is the incoming President of the Hampton Roads Board of the AHA.
“We need to practice what we preach, we need to get in the pool with them, we need to go on the bike rides with them and we need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables for the whole family to eat,” she said.
As a cardiologist and a mom, she is worried about what the future holds, as a recent study found for many children, the older they get the worse their diets get.
“A lot of parents say their children only eat five or six things, which I know is so challenging to get them to eat a variety, but a big part is just keep introducing, exposing them to that,” said Dr. Krishnan.
Heart sick adults don’t get that way overnight, she warned, and pointed to a checklist that can help everyone assess their own heart health. It’s called “Life’s Essential 8“ and sleep was just added to the list.
“If we don’t get good sleep, nothing is going to go right… our blood pressure is going to be bad, our blood sugars are going to be bad, our whole body is going to hurt, you’re going to have a headache. You’re not going to make good healthy choices either when you’re tired,” she said.
The online scoring can be accessed through My Life Check, and now be used for people as young as 2, as the AHA reinforces the importance of monitoring childrens’ heart health, modeling healthy lifestyles and making it fun.
A couple of easy ways to make it fun, Dr. Krishnan said, is to cut colorful veggies into shapes and make a kabob to grill. You could also go on a family walk after dinner.
Even if your whole family has risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol doesn’t mean you have to as well. You can do something to prevent it or at least to control it.