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3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Children Heart-Healthy

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Children Heart-Healthy

Try these lifestyle tweaks to take the pressure off your kid—high blood pressure, that is.

When your dad’s a pro athlete, there’s a lot of pressure on you as a kid to measure up. These kids sure did: Brett Hull was an 8-time All-Star in the NHL and his dad, Bobby, is a 12-time NHL All-Star; both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Harvey Catchings was a defensive force in the NBA from 1974 to 1985. His daughter, Tamika, played 15 years in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever and was Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. The Griffey boys—Ken Jr. and Ken Sr.—hit back-to-back homers when they played for the Seattle Mariners, the only father-son pair in history to do so.

Sometimes pressure can lead to excellence—but there’s one kind of pressure on kids that’s guaranteed to cause problems: high blood pressure (HBP).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 percent of kids age 12 to 19 have hypertension—that’s 1.3 million youngsters—and 10 percent have elevated blood pressure. Obesity is a huge cause of early-onset HBP, meaning these kids are candidates for premature heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

To help prevent high blood pressure and improve your kids’ overall health:

  • Help them get at least 60 minutes of activity daily.
  • Make sure they avoid processed foods, deli meats, unhealthy fats and soda. 
  • Dish up lots of fruits and veggies and supply them with plenty of water.

To discover your child’s healthy blood pressure level, talk to your pediatrician and check out the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s pocket guide.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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