Medical Edge: Staying Heart Healthy Over the Holidays

Posted at: 12/18/2012 7:03 PM
By: Ellery McCardle

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- During the holidays, it's hard to resist those seasonal treats.  But for people with an underlying heart condition, those foods can cause some problems.

Not long ago, untangling holiday lights was too much for Ed Browne.

"I was just dragging I had no energy," said Browne.

He had blockages in four coronary arteries. Three of them were opened in a by-pass operation. Now he says he feels great. But the key to him feeling great during the holidays is to manage stress, exercise and eat right.

"The main thing I have to look for is not to have more than 2,100 milligrams of salt a day," said Browne.

"It can be quite a sodium load with a couple of bad meals," said Dr. Margaret Redfield, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

She is Browne's cardiologist. She says he's doing very well, but for some people, especially those with heart failure, too much salt can land them in the hospital.

"When they eat a lot more salt, they will retain more fluid and their heart can't handle that and so the extra fluid can back up in their lungs and make them short of breath and back up in their body and cause swelling, edema, abdominal distension," said Dr. Redfield.

To stay heart healthy during the holidays, Dr. Redfield says you should watch your salt intake.

"70 percent of the salt that we take in is not from the salt shaker. So it's in canned foods or people adding salt when they cook," said Dr. Redfield.

Also, stick with your recommended exercise routine. If you can, try to fit in a walk or activity that gets you moving and don't try to do too much, it's okay to say no.

Lastly, if you have doctor's appointments during the holidays, keep them. Don't put them off until afterwards.

Browne follows these tips and plans to stay heart healthy this holiday season.

Doctors at Mayo Clinic say it's common for hospital visits to spike at this time of year for heart patients.

If you run into trouble, it's important to seek proper medical care.

for more information, click on the following link: www.mayoclinic.org