Dr. Stephen Daniels: Preventing heart disease in childhood

Full Frame

Dr. Stephen DanielsDr. Stephen Daniels discusses preventing adult heart disease in childhood.

While cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, claiming 17.5 million lives each year, a number that is projected to reach 23 million by the year 2030, it is preventable.

The World Health Organization says 80% of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented.

Dr. Stephen Daniels is an expert in preventive cardiology and he just may make you think twice before you allow your kids to be around smokers or let them spend hours in front of the TV or computer screen.

“So we know that heart attacks and strokes occur in adulthood,” says Daniels. “But the more we’ve studied this problem, the more we realize that the process actually begins in childhood.”

Dr. Stephen Daniels: Preventing heart disease in childhood

Pediatrician Dr. Stephen Daniels discusses how heart disease can be prevented beginning in childhood.

Dr. Daniels believes it’s never too early to take preventive measures to protect your heart health destiny. Research suggests those who are aerobically fit as teenagers are less likely to have a heart attack in middle age. Swedish researchers found that with every 15% increase in aerobic fitness, during your teen years, means an 18% reduction in the risk of a heart attack three decades later. And, researchers say, aerobic fitness as a teenager can even help those people who do become obese later in life.

“So, children are really born with, what we would call, ‘ideal cardiovascular health’ meaning they have few, if any, risk factors for cardio vascular disease,” explains Daniels. “Unfortunately, over time, that ideal health is lost.”

Dr. Daniels is the pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Colorado and a professor and chairman in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

From Denver, Dr. Daniels joined May Lee, this week’s guest host, in our Los Angeles studios to discuss how heart disease can be prevented beginning in childhood.