WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, recently opened a new Clinic to treat children suffering from metabolic syndrome.
The clinic was developed after pediatric cardiologists at Brenner Children’s Hospital began seeing increasing numbers of children suffering from high blood pressure.
“In years past, when children came in to be treated for hypertension, we would look for kidney disease to explain their high blood pressure,” said Wesley Covitz, M.D., director of the pediatric heart center at Brenner Children’s Hospital and of the Metabolic Syndrome Clinic. “Today with the increase in obesity rates, we look at a patient’s overall health status. Many of our pediatric patients with high blood pressure are overweight, have high cholesterol levels and mirror an adult suffering from the same health concerns.”
Children are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, are overweight and at risk for diabetes. This condition places them at increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes.
“In a short period of time, these children are at risk for developing heart disease and diabetes – serious medical conditions that could shorten their life,” Covitz said. “Many people don’t view obesity as a serious health problem, but it is a huge problem that we need to address.”
Pediatric cardiologists, nutritionists and exercise physiologists work with each patient to identify areas for improvement in their diet and exercise programs. A dietitian who is fluent in Spanish is available to help the Hispanic population – a population in which metabolic syndrome is more prevalent.
“We hope by addressing these weak areas at an early age, many of these children can avoid life-long health complications and lead active, healthy lives,” Covitz said.
Fifteen percent of adolescents are obese and 30 percent of obese adolescents have metabolic syndrome, Covitz said.
“We hope to work with YMCAs and other agencies in a patient’s home community to keep them motivated and on-track,” Covitz said. “We want the patient to leave Brenner Children’s feeling energized and empowered about making positive lifestyle changes. At home, we want them to have the necessary resources to continue to move toward better health.”
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About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Brenner Children’s Hospital. It is licensed to operate 1,282 acute care, rehabilitation, psychiatry and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report. Brenner Children’s was named one of the top 30 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Child magazine.