Staying Young at Heart: Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adolescents and Young Adults.
OPINION STATEMENT: Approaches to the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are often too narrow in scope and initiated too late. While the majority of adolescents are free of CVD, far fewer are free of CVD risk factors, especially lifestyle factors such as poor exercise and dietary habits. Most clinicians are familiar with behavioral and pharmacologic strategies for modifying these and other traditional CVD risk factors such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes. In this review, we highlight those strategies most applicable to teens and also propose fundamental reframing that recognizes the importance of early choices and life experiences to achieving cardiovascular health. Population- and individual-level approaches that support the establishment of positive health behaviors early in life are the foundation of preserving ideal cardiovascular health and promoting positive cardiovascular outcomes. The Positive Youth Development movement supports a frame shift away from seeing young people as merely the sum of their risk factors and instead as developmentally dynamic youth capable of making healthy choices. Informed by the Positive Youth Development framework, our approach to cardiovascular prevention among adolescents is both broad based and proactive, paying heed as early as possible to social, familial, and developmental factors that underlie health behaviors and employing evidence-based behavioral, pharmacologic, and surgical treatments when needed.
Chung, RJ; Touloumtzis, C; Gooding, H
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