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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pulmonary Edema - Page Five

Prevention

Pulmonary edema often isn't preventable, but these measures can help reduce your risk:
Preventing cardiovascular diseaseCardiovascular disease is the leading cause of pulmonary edema.


You can reduce your risk of many kinds of heart problems by following these suggestions:

Control your blood pressure. More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), which can lead to serious conditions such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Most adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. This is a noninvasive and painless procedure using an inflatable cuff that wraps around your upper arm. The test takes just a few minutes. Under new, stricter national blood pressure guidelines issued in May 2003, a resting blood pressure reading below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is considered normal. If your resting blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher, you have high blood pressure. A reading in between these levels places you in the prehypertensive category. In many cases, you can lower your blood pressure or maintain a healthy level by getting regular exercise, eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and limiting alcohol and coffee.

Watch your blood cholesterol. Cholesterol is one of several types of fats essential to good health. But too much cholesterol can be too much of a good thing. Higher than normal cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia) can cause fatty deposits to form in your arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing your risk of vascular disease. But lifestyle changes can often keep your cholesterol levels low. This includes limiting fats to no more than 30 percent of your diet, eating more fiber, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, stopping smoking, and drinking in moderation.

Don't smoke. If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do for your heart and lung health is to stop. Continuing to smoke increases your risk of a second heart attack or heart-related death and also increases your risk of lung cancer and other lung problems such as emphysema. What's more, you're at risk even if you don't smoke but live or work with someone who does. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to be a contributing factor to coronary artery disease. If you can't stop smoking by yourself, ask your doctor to prescribe a treatment plan to help you quit.

Eat a heart-healthy diet. Fish is one of the cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet — it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve blood cholesterol levels and prevent blood clots. It's also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help prevent everyday wear and tear on your coronary arteries. Limit your intake of all types of fats to no more than 30 percent of your daily calories, and animal (saturated) and trans fats (hydrogenated oils) to 10 percent or less.

Limit salt. It's especially important to limit your salt intake if you have heart disease. In some people with impaired left ventricular function, excess salt — even in a single meal or a bag of chips —may be enough to trigger congestive heart failure. If you're having a hard time cutting back on salt, it may be helpful to talk to a dietitian. He or she can help point out low sodium foods as well as offer tips for making a low salt diet interesting and good-tasting.

Exercise regularly. Exercise is vital for a healthy heart. Regular aerobic exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, controls blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps prevent diabetes and maintains muscle tone. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you're not used to exercise, start out slowly and build up gradually.


Maintain a healthy weight. Being even slightly overweight increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, losing only 5 to 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Get enough folic acid (folate). An essential B vitamin, folate may reduce blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that builds and maintains tissues. Too much homocysteine can promote the formation of plaque in your arteries. To get 400 micrograms of folate a day, eat green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, peanuts and cereal grains. If you're not sure how much folate you're getting from your diet, talk to your doctor about a folic acid supplement, or choose a multivitamin supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.

Manage stress. To reduce your risk of heart problems, try to reduce your stress levels. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize or deal with stressful events in your life.

Preventing HAPE

If you travel or climb at high altitudes, acclimate yourself slowly. Although recommendations vary, most experts advise ascending no more than 1,000 or 2,000 feet a day once you reach 8,000 feet. In addition, it's important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The higher you ascend the more rapidly you breathe, which means you lose larger amounts of water in the air you exhale from your lungs. Finally, although being physically fit won't necessarily prevent HAPE, people in good condition tend to be less stressed at high altitudes.

Self-Care

The following suggestions may speed your recovery from cardiac pulmonary edema and help prevent a recurrence:

Get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Take a nap during the day if you feel tired.

Listen to medical advice. Follow your doctor's advice about controlling any underlying health problems, including advice about diet and exercise.

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If your exercise plan seems too hard or too easy, talk to your doctor or a rehabilitation therapist.

Weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast. Call your doctor if you've gained 2 to 3 pounds in a single day.

Avoid drinking alcohol. Your lungs and heart work harder when you drink alcohol.
If you've experienced noncardiac pulmonary edema — including some forms of ARDS — take care to minimize any further damage to your lungs, and as far as possible avoid the cause of your condition, such as drugs, allergens or high altitudes.

© 1998-2005 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

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