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Matters of the heart- Part III

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 14 2014 05:15:40 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2014 07:24:42 PM CST

Some people think of heart disease as only an adult problem, but doctors say sometimes that problem starts as a child.

WHITEHALL, Pa -

Some people think of heart disease as only an adult problem, but doctors say sometimes that problem starts as a child.

"As early as babies, and even before you're even born, we know that your nutrition plays a large role in how your entire body develops, specifically the arteries that supply blood to the heart," said Dr. Laurissa Kashmer, Pediatric Endocrinologist with Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Dr. Kashmer says she sees it far too often: children who are obese, with diabetes, or high cholesterol. "The increase in diabetes and lipid problems, bad cholesterol, in the pediatric population that I see is terrifying," she explained.

Take Jarod Gonzalez for example. Now 14 years old, he started seeing Dr. Kashmer when he was just nine. He had high cholesterol.

"It was pretty scary when I found out what it was," said Jarod.

"It was scary to hear such a young kid to have those kind of problems," echoed his mother, Wanda Rodriguez.

Rodriguez admits her son wasn't the portrait of health, enjoying junk food and soda. He also has a family history, his grandmother died of heart disease and several of his uncles have also had problems.

Jarod was put on a cholesterol lowering medication.

"He's young and you don't want your kids to be on medication," said Rodriguez. So she stopped buying soda and started cooking healthier. Jarod also started playing more basketball and lifting weights.

Those are all things Dr. Kashmer said are important. "We have to guide them from as early an age as possible and provide the healthy options for them, whether it's healthy activity or food choices," she explained.

Something Jarod's mom agrees with wholeheartedly. "It's important that we take care of the kids and teach them how to eat properly and healthy."

With a lot of hard work, Jarod was able to be taken off the cholesterol medication and he has a message for other kids: "When you first start and you find out it's really hard but as you go along it gets easier and you just feel better about yourself in the end!"