Introducing Atherosclerosis Attack

By Cate Moriasi

Kate and I are excited to announce that our book, Atherosclerosis Attack, which we have talked about in some of our posts, is finally published and available on Amazon in paperback and kindle edition.

We have written this book for middle schoolers, using a story to teach them about atherosclerosis, the underlying cause for most heart-related deaths. Atherosclerosis happens when plaque builds up in one’s arteries, and depending on which artery is affected different complications can result. For example, a heart attack can result if the arteries that supply blood to the heart are affected. Atherosclerosis doesn’t occur overnight; it develops over many years and may start during childhood even though complications from atherosclerosis usually don’t manifest until later in life.

The good news is that atherosclerosis can be prevented or at least its progression slowed down because it is largely dependent on lifestyle choices such as diet and physical activity. Many adults are aware of the importance of adopting or maintaining a healthier lifestyle and are actively working towards it. However, many parents struggle to get their children to eat healthy and some give up because it’s a battle that is too difficult to fight.

Just imagine if children knew exactly how sugar negatively impacts their bodies, what would they do? I’m sure they will still want to consume that sugary item to satisfy their craving. However, they might be willing to work out a plan to help them balance their cravings with what they know they need to do for their well-being.  Many children hear their parents say certain things but the ‘aha’ moment might come from someone else saying the same thing.

Atherosclerosis Attack, is a science fiction book written to help children understand how a real disease, atherosclerosis, develops and how it can be prevented. The engaging and adventure-packed story will challenge young readers to think differently about what they eat and how that relates to a real disease. Using the story format that makes learning fun, we teach children about nutrition, exercise, cholesterol, and developing good habits that have the potential to last a lifetime. As children learn that life is full of choices, our hope is that the information they get out of this book would make it easier for them to make healthier choices. Our goal is to inspire children to take charge and be heroes of their own health.

This book was largely inspired by my then eight-year old’s interest in my atherosclerosis research. He saw images on my computer and asked what they were. I explained to him that they were pictures showing atherosclerosis in blood vessels of mice. His response was, “What? What did you say?” So, we worked on the big word but he kept asking questions, wanting to know more. After the explanation of how the nice-looking blood vessels belonged to mice that had eaten fish oil and the not-so-good-looking blood vessels belonged to mice that ate bad food, he asked if that could happen to people and I told him, “yes.” When he said he didn’t want atherosclerosis in his blood, I realized that a child had understood something I would never have expected him to understand. This book project came together when my friend and colleague said, without knowing my interaction with my son, that she would like to communicate science in a fun way to children.

Here is a short description of the book. “Twelve-year-old Victor Valens and his eleven-year-old cousin Sal Sultus live on opposite sides of the country until Sal and her mother move next door to the Valenses. The children struggle to get along, and their world is further shaken when their grandpa gets sick. They try to understand the disease that has struck him and determine that the underlying cause is a deadly disease with a big word, atherosclerosis. They partner up to create a simulated computer adventure and travel into the world of atherosclerosis.”

We hope you can get a copy for your middle schooler, read along with them if possible, and start the conversation regarding what they learned about protecting their bodies and what they can do to start making small changes that will benefit their bodies in the long run. The book can be used in home or school settings. We are also working on a facilitator’s guide that will be useful in guiding conversations and getting the young readers to think about what they read and how they can apply it. If you enjoy the book, please post a review on Amazon.com and on your favorite social media sites. Thank you and please stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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