Preventive Cardiology & Athlete Screening

iHeart Pediatrics

Pediatric Cardiologist located in Old Bridge, NJ

Preventive cardiology aims to help you look after your child's heart health and avoid heart disease later in life. If you want to know how to optimize your child’s heart health, contact expert pediatric cardiologist Laura Boulos, DO, at iHeart Pediatrics in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Dr. Boulos can offer advice on diet and exercise to promote your child's well-being and provide vital services like athlete screening to detect the earliest signs of cardiac disease. Find out more by calling iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.

Preventive Cardiology & Athlete Screening Q & A

What is preventive cardiology?

Preventive cardiology is an approach to heart health that aims to protect your child from developing heart disease later on in life or adulthood. 

In the United States, children typically have some of the highest cholesterol levels in the world. Studies show that 7% of children aged 10-15 had early signs of atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries where cholesterol builds up and reduces blood flow), mainly due to eating a diet high in saturated fat. Taking a preventive approach from an early age can protect them from developing heart disease.

What are the main risk factors for heart disease?

The main risk factors for heart disease are:

  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of early-onset heart disease

Inherited heart problems and having a higher genetic risk of heart disease aren't preventable, but all other risk factors are. Obesity and unhealthy lifestyles are the most frequent cause of high blood pressure and diabetes, and ultimately heart disease. Preventive cardiology aims to reduce these avoidable risks.

What does preventive cardiology involve?

The foundation of preventive cardiology is diet and exercise. Children over 2 should eat a heart-healthy diet with low-fat dairy products, and all children should get plenty of exercise. 

1 in 3 children in the United States are obese or overweight, so it is more important now than ever to promote a healthy lifestyle in children. Diets should include an appropriate amount of calcium, fiber, fruits, vegetables, and protein. Carbohydrates do not need to be avoided, but should be eaten in moderation.  Occasional snacking is okay, but children should always be encouraged to make healthy choices.   

Additionally, children 6 years and up should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.  Studies show that physical activity not only aids in physical well being, but also promotes emotional well being, all of which are important for building the foundation of a lifelong healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Boulos can further discuss healthy habits with you during your visit, as well as monitoring important heart health indicators such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

What is athlete screening?

Athlete screening is a way of assessing your child's heart health to make sure there are no issues that could affect their ability to participate in sports and other physical activities. It can play an important role in preventive cardiology.

Sometimes cardiac issues may not present themselves until children are physically active. These heart problems may become apparent with increased physical exertion and include symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, syncope (fainting), or abnormal heart rhythms.

Dr. Boulos will assess your child’s symptoms with exercise and perform the appropriate diagnostic tests which may include an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.  She may also recommend Holter or event monitoring with exercise.  

At iHeart Pediatrics, we will provide a more comprehensive screening for at-risk athletic pediatric patients due to past medical history, family history, or concerning symptoms. Additionally, we will provide appropriate clearance for sports post COVID-19 infection.

Help your child to live a long, active, and healthy life with preventive cardiology. For more information or to arrange a health screening, call iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.