BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A doctor with the Ochsner Health Center on O'Neal Lane is offering some advice for Baton Rouge area residents to have a heart-healthy Mardi Gras.
Dr. Yolanda Webb says those with high blood pressure or heart-related issues need to be a bit more cautious during Carnival.
"The excitement of the moment can cause people to forget dietary guidelines and scheduled medicine dosages they are supposed to be following," says Dr. Webb. "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."
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The problem isn't extra calories for patients with heart disease or high blood pressure, it's the salt. Excessive consumption of salt can lead to problems.
"For many patients with high blood pressure, eating extra chips or pretzels causes them to consume more salt, and that causes blood pressure to rise," Dr. Webb said. "And if they forget to take their blood pressure medicine because they are running late for a parade or an event, causing their blood pressure to run even higher, this can lead to a dangerous situation."
Dr. Webb also says 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. A weakened heart creates difficulty regulating fluid in the body, so the more salt you consume, the more fluid you retain."
Patients with heart failure or weakened hearts will hold on to even more water and will develop more edema or swelling of the legs, explains Dr. Webb. "If the extra fluid starts building up in the lungs, one can become very short of breath."
According to Dr. Webb, the best way to prepare for a healthier Mardi Gras Day is to plan ahead. Give yourself extra time, pack some healthier snacks and be sure to pack your medicine.
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