Health
Thursday, July 17, 2008
 
<Childhood obesity can lead to early heart disease

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Sometimes in medicine we re-learn old things. Then we think that they are new. We recently have re-learned a lesson from the 1950's. During the Korean War, we made an interesting discovery about heart disease. At that time, autopsies were routinely done at the time of death. Doctors doing autopsies on deceased soldiers were amazed at what they found in the heart. Many of the young soldiers had evidence of heart disease. Some of them actually had 50% or more blockages of their heart arteries. This taught us that heart disease begins early. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published some recommendations that relate to those findings. In order for young soldiers to have significant heart disease, it had to have started during childhood. There are several factors that make this more likely. The first has to do with obesity. Many of our children are overweight. This puts them at increased risk of developing early heart disease. Therefore, the best defense against early heart disease is diet and exercise. One of the rules that I use for children is that they should not drink calories. Sixteen ounces of milk a day is plenty for the older child. Amounts beyond that add calories without a lot of extra nutritional benefit. Soda contains empty calories with no nutritional value. It should not be used on a daily basis. It should serve more as a treat. The second factor for early heart disease is family history. Your genes control your blood pressure. They control your cholesterol level. They are related to developing diabetes. All three of these things cause early heart disease. We have always treated diabetes in children with insulin. With the increased weight that we see in our children, overweight adolescents are now developing adult type diabetes. This is another reason to lose weight. While genetics controls blood pressure, blood pressure is usually higher in children who are overweight. The lesson here is for children with high blood pressure to lose weight. Cholesterol levels are also affected by weight. When I did my first cholesterol test, the result was high. I changed my diet. It did not change. I increased my exercise. It did not change. I lost 10 pounds over a two-month period. The cholesterol level dropped 50 points. Therefore, weight also affects cholesterol level. In the past the AAP had recommended checking cholesterol in children with a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease. If the level was high, diet was recommended. The new AAP recommendations have two significant changes. The first has to do with drinking milk. We know that young children need cholesterol to grow their nerves. For that reason, there has not been any formal recommendation about what kind of milk children should drink. The new recommendations suggest that when children go off formula or breast milk, they should use 2% milk or skim milk. One of the other major recommendations is related to the use of cholesterol reducing drugs. In the past, we did not use these drugs in children. The new recommendations are suggesting the use of these drugs in children as young as age 8. So we have some new approaches to treating heart disease at an early age in children. These approaches are primarily aimed at those children who have a family history of early heart disease or high cholesterol. The number one recommendation is to not let children gain too much weight. Other recommendations include checking cholesterol levels early in children with a family history. They include not using whole milk for children. They include considering the use of cholesterol lowering drugs when diet and exercise fail to reduce the levels. Since every family history is different, the approach will be different with each child. However, we are now recalling the lessons we learned during the Korean War. It is never too early to take heart disease seriously.

Alzheimer's holds training The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. Milford Center Genesis Healthcare at 700 Marvel Road in Milford will host the training on Aug. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Milford Center, therefore pre-registration is required by July 23. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 302-854-9788.

Kids health fair Kids can learn how to live healthy lives on Tuesday, July 22 at the Nemours Health and Prevention Services' Healthy Kids Day Health Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the fairgrounds in Harrington, in the Delaware Electric Cooperative's free entertainment tent located near the Midway entrance. With 23 vendors, this event covers physical activity, nutrition, disease prevention, immunizations, cancer prevention and early detection, and injury prevention. Original members of the Titans football team (they inspired Disney's "Remember the Titans" movie) will visit at 9:30 a.m. and offer a 10 a.m. autograph session; Miss Delaware follows at noon, and Grover from Sesame Street will appear at 1:30 p.m. There will also be cup stacking demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nemours Health and Prevention Services is promoting its "5-2-1 and Almost None" campaign. Visitors will receive giveaways and complimentary information about immunizations, safe drinking water, preventing lead exposure, healthy homes and the necessity of safe food and beverages. Kids can play musical chairs or enjoy the speed cup stacking demonstration. For information about the Delaware State Fair's other events, visit www.delawarestatefair.com.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Oncology symposium The Sixth Annual Seaside Oncology Symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach. The Tunnell Cancer Center and the Medical Society of Delaware sponsor this annual, half-day symposium to update participants on the diagnosis and management of cancer. It is designed for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The conference, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends with lunch at 1 p.m., is planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint-sponsorship of the Medical Society of Delaware and Beebe Medical Center. The Seaside Oncology Symposium is supported by unrestricted educational grants from various pharmaceutical companies and programs. Details regarding this year's topics and speakers will be available soon. Hotel reservations may be made directly with the Boardwalk Plaza at 800-332-3224.

Depression support The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Caregiver support group Join our monthly support group at the Cheer Community Center, the second Monday of each month at 11 a.m., 854-9500.This support group is for you, whether you are a new caregiver or have been taking care of a loved one for years. We are turning the "Fearless caregiver" book into a guide for our support group. Each month a chapter will be discussed, concerns shared and support given.

Weight loss surgery support The Western New Life WLS Support Group will be having its monthly meeting on July 17. We meet at Trinity United Methodist Church, 17249 Phillips Hill Road, Laurel. We meet each third Thursday of the month. Everyone who has had, or is thinking about, having weight loss surgery is welcome. The theme of the July 17 meeting is craft night - we'll be making new bracelets for our medical IDs. Group Leaders: Jennifer Rosen (jrosen87@comcast.net) and Heather O'Connor (meannevil2@yahoo.com)

Alzheimer's holds training The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times per year in each county. Milford Center Genesis Healthcare at 700 Marvel Road in Milford will host the training on Friday, Aug. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Milford Center, therefore pre-registration is required by July 23. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee at 302-854-9788.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Baxter Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has added another physician to its active medical staff. Dr. Ian Baxter, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, has joined Nanticoke Women's Health Center, located at 1309 Bridgeville Highway. Dr. Baxter graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his internship and residency in Ohio. Dr. Baxter and his family come to Seaford from Nebraska, where he was a clinical instructor at Creighton University School of Medicine and completed 10 years of military service. He was a Major in the USAF while stationed in Nebraska. His memberships include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists. Dr. Baxter is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Baxter is experienced in laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy, total laparoscopic hysterectomy, urinary incontinence surgery and the latest in contraceptive techniques. He is currently accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 302-629-3923.

Visit Nanticoke at the fair Nanticoke Health Services will once again be part of the Delaware State Fair with tables located in the Delaware Electric Cooperative's Free Entertainment Tent directly across from the Midway entrance of the fairgrounds on Rt. 13 in Harrington. The health fair runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22 (Nemours Healthy Kids Day). There will be information and interactive displays. Nanticoke will provide "heart healthy" brochures, mini first aid kits, heart attack and stroke bookmarks and other giveaways for children. Nanticoke Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center will provide fairgoers with educational information on the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen chambers to heal chronic wounds. To learn more about Nanticoke's fair participation, contact Nanticoke's Training Center at 302-629-6611, extension 8919.