How to Keep Your Heart Healthy During Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS - Mardi Gras 2017 is right around the corner. As Fat Tuesday approaches, parade-goers in New Orleans will hit the streets for dozens of parades and the typical revelry that surrounds Carnival, which undoubtedly means partaking in the consumption of food and alcohol. Even though it comes with the season, those with high blood pressure or heart-related issues are reminded that they do need to be a bit more cautious during Fat Tuesday celebrations.

The excitement of the moment can cause people to forget dietary guidelines and scheduled medicine dosages they are supposed to be following. While you may think a little cheating here and there or accidentally skipping a pill or two doesn’t really add up, it can, especially if you are on a low sodium diet.

For patients with heart disease or high blood pressure, this excessive consumption can lead to problems. It’s not so much the extra calories that’s an issue – it’s the salt. For many patients with high blood pressure, eating extra chips or pretzels, for instance, causes them to consume more salt, and that causes high blood pressure. Add if they forget to take their blood pressure pills because they are running late for the parade, causing their blood pressure to run even higher, that can lead to a dangerous situation.

The holiday can be just as bad for those with a history of congestive heart failure or a weakened heart. Like those with blood pressure issues, it goes back to salt intake. Those with a weakened heart have difficulty regulating fluid in their body – the more salt you consume, the more fluid you retain. Those with heart failure or weakened hearts will hold on to even more water and will develop more edema or swelling of the legs. If the extra fluid starts building up in the lungs, one can become very short of breath.

The best preparation one can make for this Carnival Season is to just plan ahead. Take a little extra time, pack some healthier snacks and make sure you have your medicine with you. This time of year should be a celebration, and taking some cautionary steps can help to better ensure that.

Ready to talk to a doctor about your risk of heart disease? Schedule an appointment by calling 504-273-4027 or visit www.digital.ochsner.org/heart_hra/ with an Ochsner cardiologist online.

Please follow us on social media: Facebook: Ochsner Health System, Twitter: @OchsnerHealth, Newsroom: news.ochsner.org for updates as additional information becomes available.

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Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 60 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 17,000 employees and over 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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