World Heart Day: Pandemic affecting kids’ heart health? A cardiologist answers

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World Heart Day: In pandemic times the routine of children has undergone a drastic change considering many of them are not going to schools, are cooped up at home and glued to their screens all the time, with very little physical activity.

Health experts have been expressing their concern over the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on children’s physical and mental health. From obesity, diabetes, anxiety to depression, kids who are largely inactive and leading an unhealthy lifestyle may be at risk of developing certain health conditions later in life.

Are children at risk of developing cardiac troubles later in their life due to inactivity and change in lifestyle during pandemic?

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Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in an exclusive chat with HT Digital, answering this important question, said that 1.5-2 years of inactivity in pandemic times will not affect the children’s heart, but added that it could have a lot of negative effect on the child’s overall health.

“In short, the fact that they have been stuck at home and not being able to play around in short term, in these 1.5 years is not going to affect their heart,” says Dr Seth.

The world-renowned cardiologist and Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee, however, warned that the bad habits formed in pandemic times could have a negative impact on their overall health.

There are two or three very important things in this regard, he said.

“First, if they change their habits to staying glued to screens, not exercising, not playing, not going out to play games with friends, or pick up sports, then their habits stay on. Secondly, education means understanding more and more about good health, diet, benefits of exercise and practicing it daily. It (pandemic times) does away with all the education we want to give them about exercise, heart health, benefits of eating, which can only happen in their life during school time,” he said.

“There is also a psychological aspect to it. Not being able to mix up with other children and not being able to play around can have a negative effect too. The combination of these factors may have a lot of effect on a child’s health. The cardiac health in 1-2 years does not suffer so much, concern is about their habits,” added Dr Seth.

It is important for children to be physically active and connect with the outside world for overall health. They must be encouraged to play outdoor sports, follow proper social distancing protocols like wearing masks and washing their hands with soap and water at regular intervals.

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