American Heart Association Focused on Early Heart Problems Among Adolescent Girls

Last year, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a report that raised concerns about high occurrences of heart problems detected in many teenage girls. Based on a study conducted by researchers from the Emory University School of Medicine (EUSM) in Georgia, the report concluded that black girls and girls belonging to families with low income and lower education, ranging from ages 9 to 19, have demonstrated early decline in cardiovascular health.

An assistant professor of child pediatrics at EUSM named Dr. Holly Gooding, M.D. who also led the research study, reported that some teens and not a few adolescent girls suffer from weakened hearts in more ways than others. Their study showed that 20% of the girls who were subjects of the overall study began their pubescent stage with existing heart-related health problems.

The conclusion was that less than half of the adolescents gave healthy heart scores when compared with the ideal cardiovascular health score that a young girl must have. The considerations for the scoring was based on the seven factors that the American Heart Association calls “Life’s Simple 7”, while the girls were categorized as either ideal, intermediate or poor. For this purpose, the 7th factor “Healthy Blood Sugar level” was not included as a factor of AHA’s “Life’s Simple 7”:

1.  Proper diet
2.  Regular exercise
3.  Tobacco

4. Healthy BMI (body mass index)
5.  Healthy cholesterol level
6.  Healthy blood pressure and;
7.  Healthy blood sugar level

Dr. Gooding stated that teens should strive to be physically active and steer clear from smoking. Additionally, children of all ages should be able to eat and choose from various healthy foods. Other predisposing factors that can lead to heart diseases from early childhood and adolescent stage include, smoking, alcohol intakes and child obesity.

According to data gathered by the EUSM researchers, dating from as far back as 2015, lack of regular exercise and obesity became common in children. They found out that almost 24 million children between ages 2 to 19 are suffering from obesity, while 15% of teens, the majority of whom, lacked physical activity.


How the Researchers Conducted the Study

The researchers from the university used data from the National Growth and Health Study, whilst financed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The data came from respondents comprising 1,200 black girls and 1,100 white girls who were enrolled between 1987 and 1998.

In the study, they recorded the time when the girls started their menstruation, and at the same time took into account feelings of depression and occurrence of teen pregnancy during their their investigations.

Social and Economic Conditions are Also Determinants According to AHA

Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., Ph.D., the subcommittee chair of AHA’s Atherosclerosis, Hypertension and Obesity in the Young said:

“I strongly believe that many of the cardiovascular disease risk factors arise from economic, social and racial disparities.” “All of which could begin in early life and therefore impact the lives of adolescent girls.”

While many may consider it too early to consider and discuss with their teens the possibility of heart problems and the risks they face, the fact that it can happen early in life is reason enough to talk to adolescent girls about the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 steps in preserving one’s health.

When choosing gifts for our children, especially our young adolescent girls, it would be best to choose items that will engage them in some form of physical activity, or engage their mind in some educational yet entertaining challenges; such as those recommended by After all, when confronted with mental stressors like child obesity or teenage pregnancy, we as parents, should be the firsts to provide them the physical and mental support they need.