An Iowa cardiologist says heart disease begins not at age fifty, but at age five. Doctor Steve Smalley says the effect of a high-fat diet started becoming apparent to American doctors during the Vietnam war. Doctors doing autopsies on soldiers in their late teens found “kind of shocking” evidence of well-established heart disease, and now he says it shows up even earlier than that. Smalley says Iowa families should include prevention of heart disease in their lifestyle. The doc says prevention isn’t just something to begin at some time of life, but for your whole life, so in raising kids prevention should start early as well. He says the choices parents make for the kids will have effects far into adulthood. The doctor understands how busy families can pick up the habit of picking up a bag of burgers on the way home for supper. He says that has a way of happening more often, and before long more than half your meals are restaurant food, high in saturated fat. Smalley admits genetics play a part in some cases of heart disease…but it’s a complex picture. He says if a family’s father had a heart attack at 45 there may have been other factors like smoking or diabetes, and that makes the picture not so clear. Smalley says even if you’ve been dealt a “bad hand” genetically, watching weight and blood pressure, giving up smokes and fat can cut your risk. Smalley’s a cardiologist who works at the Iowa Heart Center, a clinic in Des Moines.
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