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February 18,  2002

Beware of Risks to Young Hearts During American Heart Month, Says Atlantic Children's Medical Center 

Need to Raise Awareness of Potential For Heart Disease in Children

(SafetyAlerts) - With so much focus on hearts in February, experts at Atlantic Children's Medical Center encourage you to think about smaller, younger hearts that are at risk.

"With the increase in childhood obesity and rising cholesterol, children are at greater risk than ever of heart disease," said Christine Donnelly, M.D., director of the Pediatric Cardiology Center at Atlantic's Children's Medical Center.

Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans today, according to the American Heart Association. And the roots of the problem may begin in childhood.

The risk of heart disease is increased by certain factors, some of which can be controlled. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical activity and smoking are areas that families can address to minimize risk, said Harold Starkman, M.D., director of the Pediatric Endocrinology Center at Atlantic's Children's Medical Center.

Families need to live healthy lives, recommend these experts from Atlantic's Children's Medical Center. Specifically, families should eat well, following nutritional guidelines, to avoid obesity and control cholesterol. Families should maintain an active level of exercise to control weight and blood pressure. And all family members should avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.

With proper attention to nutrition and physical activity while a child is still young, the chance of developing heart disease is reduced. And good habits, modeled by the adults of the family and learned by the children at a young age, teach heart-healthy behavior that can last a lifetime, explained Dr. Starkman.

Experts from Atlantic's Children's Medical Center are offering a series of lectures throughout February, March and April on issues dealing with child development for parents of children and adolescents. For information or to register for any of these free seminars, call 1-888-878-KIDS.

Atlantic's Children Medical Center provides an entire range of specialized pediatric services and programs that focus on the health care needs of children from birth to age 21 and their families. Unlike many other children's centers confined to a single building, the Children's Medical Center spans multiple facilities throughout Atlantic Health System, providing convenient access to specialists, programs and services.

In January 2002, the Children's Medical Center expanded its services and facilities with the opening of the Goryeb Children's Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital. In June 2002, the Gagnon Children's Emergency Center will open at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Atlantic Health System, one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, includes Morristown Memorial Hospital, Overlook Hospital in Summit, Mountainside Hospital in Montclair/Glen Ridge, The General Hospital Center at Passaic, and affiliate Newton Memorial Hospital. Atlantic Health System is an academic and research affiliate of the New Jersey Medical School - University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Morristown Memorial Hospital is a recipient of the Magnet Recognition Award for Nursing Excellence through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Data source: Atlantic Health System

Source: PR Newswire

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