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Am J Prev Med. 1989 Sep-Oct;5(5):279-95.

Cardiovascular health promotion in children: "Heart Smart" and the changing role of physicians.

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Birch & Davis International, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.


Despite encouraging reductions in mortality rates from coronary heart disease (CHD), it remains a major public health problem and the leading cause of death in the United States. Although various explanations have been proposed for declining death rates, a consensus exists regarding the importance of lifestyle alterations for risk factor reduction. Because cardiovascular (CV) risk-related behavioral patterns are acquired during childhood, numerous school-based CV health promotion programs have been implemented. The effectiveness of CV research studies for children during the last decade are reviewed. Intervention strategies to prevent heart disease include (1) the population or public health approach and (2) the high-risk approach. The "Heart Smart" model intervention project is utilized to describe these two main strategies. Policy, position statements, and initiatives on CV risk factors from major professional societies and associations, in addition to governmental organizations and offices, are also provided. Primary care physicians, particularly pediatricians and family practitioners, as well as cardiologists can play a crucial role in the prevention of CHD and essential hypertension through efforts and practices in their offices, the schools, and the community at large. The changing and expanding role of physicians interested in preventive child health care is emphasized, including involvement in school- and community-based CV health promotion programs. More comprehensive CV model projects such as "Heart Smart," which intervene on the total school environment, are critical to the reduction of CV disease in the United States and abroad.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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