Keep Your Heart Healthy This Mardi Gras

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This weekend is the beginning of the end when it comes to Mardi Gras 2015. As Fat Tuesday approaches, parade-goers in New Orleans will hit the streets for the final few hours of carnival revelry, 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 causes them to consume more salt, and that causes high blood pressure. And if they forget to take their blood pressure pills because they are running late for a parade, causing their blood pressure to run even higher, these factors 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 Mardi Gras Day is to just plan ahead. Take a little extra time, pack some healthier snacks and make sure you have your medicine with you. The day should be a celebration, and taking some cautionary steps can help to better ensure that.

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