Heart Disease on the Rise Among Teens
Less than half of the adolescent population in the United States is not exercising and making good diet habits and this is leading to a new generation of heart-disease patients. A newly released survey confirms that the current generation of teens could be at greater risk of heart-disease than previous generations if they keep up their current behavior.
A study conducted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center found that teens are sedentary and eat unhealthy foods. This is no surprise about American teens but what was found was that of the 4,673 participants, more than 80 percent had a diet that would be deemed as poor. It was a diet high in fast foods and processed foods as well as sugar-sweetened drinks, low in fruits and vegetables and whole-grain products.
The scientists compared the teens’ behaviors with the American Heart Association’s factors for healthy living. The factors for optimal heart health included a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose within normal ranges and not smoking.
The results indicated only 45 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls met the criteria and less than 1 percent were eating an ideally healthy diet. Of the group 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls have a poor body mass index.
The results of the study were not meant to scare people but to wake them up. The worsening health of today’s teens could put them at higher risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes as adults. Already there is an increase in unfavorable levels of cholesterol, impaired glucose tolerance and Type 2 diabetes. Blood-pressure is also on the rise among teens.
Heart-disease risk factors remain unchanged throughout life, so the teen’s health profile today will most likely be the same when they’re older with all the added cardiac dangers that come along the way. Blood pressure is one thing that is difficult to reduce without drastic changes in behavior. Unhealthy actions also take a toll over time. A teen that develops hypertension will have to live with for about 60to 70 years as opposed to a 40 year old person who develops the same condition. The 40 year old only has about 30 to 40 years of having to endure it.
On the bright side, advances in heart disease care are making it possible for more heart patients to survive, though with weaker and more susceptible tickers. The study shows it does not take expensive or complicated treatments to undo the unhealthy trends that are occurring. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way. Doctors and healthcare providers need to take a more active role in advocating for healthy living. Legislators and industry leaders also need to address the social and cultural environment that promotes unhealthy habits and start to make changes that help. Only when people work together will there be a change.
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