Many teenagers are heading towards heart attacks

Many teenagers are heading towards heart attacks

The German Heart Foundation, the German Society for Cardiology and the Cancer Research Center warn that more and more children are becoming overweight and addicted to cigarettes. Lifestyle habits in youth lay the foundation for health in adulthood. More and more young people in Germany are at risk of having a heart attack later in life. Obesity, which, along with nicotine addiction, is one of the most dangerous risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, threatens to spread rapidly among adolescents. That is why the German Heart Foundation, the German Society for Cardiology and the German Cancer Research Center are calling for effective protective measures to be established in schools: nutrition lessons must finally be given an appropriate place in the curriculum. Physical education should be given a higher priority. Smoking must also be consistently banned on school premises in all federal states.

Risk: smoking and obesity

Around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a heart attack every year. A calcification of the coronary arteries, which progresses over years and continuously restricts the oxygen supply to the heart muscle, is typically responsible. The main culprits of such vascular calcification are cigarette addiction and obesity, which leads to high blood pressure, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellitus. Such risk factors are to be found in adults, children, and adolescents.

“11% to 15% of those starting school are already overweight,” emphasizes Professor Dr. Medical Helmut Gohlke, chief physician at the heart centre in Bad Krozingen. “It is to be feared that Germany will follow the trend in the USA, where the proportion of overweight children has more than tripled since the 1960s,” warns the renowned heart specialist.

 

Enjoy exercise without pressure to perform.

The German Heart Foundation, the German Society for Cardiology, and the German Cancer Research Center have written a comprehensive statement containing constructive suggestions for effectively protecting young people from obesity and cigarette addiction. An important starting point is nutritional science, which must be given an appropriate place in the curriculum of all schools. In addition, a health-promoting range of break meals should be provided, instead of offering high-fat and sweet pastries, the purchase of fruit on the school premises, wholemeal bread and salads. Furthermore, schools have to do much more to counteract the lack of exercise, which is still one of the leading causes of obesity and is now widespread even among young people.

“From a medical point of view, the number of weekly sports hours urgently needs to be increased,” emphasizes Prof. Gohlke. “However, the focus should not be too much on ​​performance. Rather, the fun of exercise must be awakened so that the sporting activities can continue in adulthood after school.”

Ban smoking in schools.

Many schools should also show more commitment to the fight against cigarette addiction. School age is the typical starting age for cigarette addiction, from which many sufferers cannot get away later in life despite their best efforts. The three organizations are therefore calling on those responsible from politics and society to finally create the long overdue legal basis for a general smoking ban in schools in all federal states.

In many places, school principals can still allow smoking in designated areas alone or in consultation with the parents’ council. Hence, smoking corners are still part of everyday school life in many federal states.

 

The dangers of being overweight:

  • Overweight children are about three to five times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke before the age of 65 than their normal-weight peers.
  • Globally, 22 million children under the age of five are obese.
  • Almost 20% of children in Europe are overweight or obese.
  • The highest rates are observed in the southern countries of Europe. For example, in Italy, around 36% of nine-year-olds are overweight or obese.

Quelle: European Heart Network (EHN) – Press release, September 2004

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