Childhood is the time in a person’s life when their body experiences the growth and development that will determine their overall health for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, obesity during that period of growth and development has been linked to cardiovascular disease in children.
As the rate of obesity in children has increased, so has the prevalence of cardiovascular problems. Cardiovascular disease affects the heart, veins and blood vessels in a person’s body.
The process called atherosclerosis refers to the gradual build-up of a substance called plaque in the arteries. In cases of severe build-up, this plaque can constrict the flow of blood to the heart.
This is a slow-moving process that begins in childhood, but isn’t a cause for concern in healthy older adults. However, the process is accelerated in obese children. In some obese children, this can cause problems as they grow older, leading to heart disease and other problems at a relatively young age.
The Importance of Early Screening
Not all children who are overweight may appear that way. During regular checkups, you child’s doctor will track their growth and development according to charts established to provide baselines for childhood development.
If your child is found to be overweight or obese, your pediatrician may recommend testing and screening for cardiovascular disease, particularly if there is a history of heart disease in your family. Your doctor will monitor your child’s blood pressure and heart functioning during normal check-ups.
If you have a strong family history of heart disease or cholesterol problems, then your child may be screened even if their weight isn’t a cause for concern.