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Pediatric Heart Health: Is Your Child Eating Too Much Salt?

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In recent news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that over 90 percent of kids living in the United States consume too much salt or sodium. If your child eats a diet high in salt, keep reading. A high intake of sodium is one of the leading causes of heart disease in America. There are many types of heart disease, including coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure. If your child continues to eat a high sodium diet, they may be at risk for one of these heart conditions.

Here's how salt affects your child and steps you can take reduce their health risks for heart disease:

What's Heart Disease?

Heart disease can develop from a number of things, including obesity and smoking. However, it's now become a prevalent problem with kids who eat salt on a regular basis. Like obesity and smoking, sodium damages the arteries that support your child's heart.

When there's too much sodium present in the arteries, they can't circulate blood properly. In most cases, the vessels weaken, bulge out or collapse from their efforts. Your child may not show symptoms of heart disease right away. However, your little one can develop hypertension or high blood pressure once sodium builds up inside their arteries.

Your child may even develop breathing problems if their heart can't transport enough oxygenated blood to their lungs. For instance, you may notice that your child breathes heavy, or that they seem out of breath during outdoor activities, such as running and playing ball.

If your child develops water retention in their limbs, face and abdomen, they may appear puffy or bloated. Salt can retain water in the body, which places your child at risk for edema.

Eventually, the excessive salt in your child's arteries damages their heart. The heart's muscle tissues weaken and fail. You can make changes to your child's diet to prevent the health problems above. 

What Can You Do to Protect Your Child's Heart Health?

Instead of adding salt to your family's meals, season them with garlic, onions and other flavorful ingredients. Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day. Water can flush out excessive sodium in the body, including the arteries. 

Finally, schedule a heart exam or checkup for your child with a cardiologist. A cardiologist can treat your child if they develop high blood pressure or some other condition that affects their heart. 

If you need more information about sodium and pediatric heart care, consult with a cardiologist in your area today. To learn more, contact a company like ICE, Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence.