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Declaration on Children, Youth and Heart Health

InterAmerican Heart Foundation

   The following statement was originally presented in Montreal in July 1997 by the Argentine and Venezuelan Heart Foundations seeking broader discussion, review and approval by the heart foundations of the American continent and the InterAmerican Heart Foundation. It is based on a consensus statement by Canadian education and health organizations, and has been modified in response to comments received from individuals and foundations. It was approved by the InterAmerican Heart Foundation at its meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 1998.

   Cardiovascular diseases and stroke are the leading cause of death for adults over the age of 30 in our American continent. They are largely preventable. Cardiovascular health is supported by a combination of healthy behaviors and conditions which suggest that approaches to support heart health should be holistic and begin in childhood.

   Lifelong patterns of behavior are acquired in childhood. And children are generally the healthiest segment of the population throughout the globe, regardless of their country's level of development. Because of these facts, the InterAmerican Heart Foundation, together with its member organizations, promotes the general health of children and adolescents, working in partnership with other organization, professionals and the general population interested in children's health, particularly parents and educators.

   All age groups should be supported with programs that take into account children's developmental stages and transitions. These programs should have specific strategies to address nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use and general health and welfare. Children who are at risk for rheumatic fever and Chagas' disease, as well as those children, who are more likely to acquire various risk factors, should be particularly targeted to reduce their risk.

   A focused "health determinants approach" is suggested for the vast majority of countries in our continent. This approach would focus on education, social support, health and other services, and the physical environment of the child in order to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The approach should include strategies targeted at the child, the family, the school, the community, and society at large.

   It is recommended that the school be the focal point for reaching the child, that family and the community using a "comprehensive school health approach." This approach includes a broad spectrum of activities and services, which take place in schools and their surrounding communities in order to improve the health and will being of children and adolescents. Where and when possible, the media should be another cornerstone of the approach to reach children, particularly where school attendance is limited.

   The objectives are:

· To promote children and youth's health and wellness in general;
· To prevent heart diseases and stroke in particular;
· To intervene to assist children and youth who are in need or at high risk, and
· To help to support those whoa are already sick.

   Local, provincial, state, national and international efforts should support these objectives and strategies through on-going, loosely structured network. These networks should allow for coordination of priorities and joint activities as well as taking into account the needs and possibilities of various countries and locales.


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2nd Virtual Congress of Cardiology

Dr. Florencio Garófalo
Steering Committee
Dr. Raúl Bretal
Scientific Committee
Dr. Armando Pacher
Technical Committee - CETIFAC

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