Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Diet Tips

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  • PAH & Your Diet

    PAH & Your Diet

    Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a condition in which the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to your lungs are constricted. If you have PAH, you might experience dizziness, fainting, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

    You can take control of your PAH by making healthy choices and staying dedicated to your new routine. What you eat is especially important. Some foods raise blood pressure, while others can cause weight gain.

    Click through the slideshow to find out how you can change your diet to keep PAH in check.

  • Cut Back on Salt & Sodium

    Cut Back on Salt & Sodium

    One of the most common bits of advice you’ll hear from doctors is to lower your salt intake. Salt hides in many packaged, pickled, and canned foods, so choosing fresh ingredients can help limit the amount of sodium you consume. Try tasting your food before adding salt. Many people add salt out of habit, but a little goes a long way.

    Bonus tip: If you’re worried about losing flavor, try experimenting with spices like cumin and herbs like garlic.

  • Limit Fluids

    Limit Fluids

    Many PAH patients are placed on a two-liter fluid restriction, but you should talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount for you. Keeping track of your weight may help you assess proper fluid consumption. If you experience weight gain over the course of a day, you may be getting more fluids than you need. Avoid drinking too many fluids to prevent fluid buildup.

  • Stay Away from Stimulants

    Stay Away from Stimulants

    Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants, such as alcohol, is necessary for regulating your blood pressure. Try tea and coffee substitutes like chicory if you like a hot beverage in the mornings. Carbonated juices and “mock-tails” (non-alcoholic cocktails) can replace a drink at the end of the day.

    Bonus tip: Cutting back on stimulants might also lead to better sleep.

  • Relieve Nausea

    Relieve Nausea

    Many people with PAH report that new treatments make them nauseated. To help ease this side effect, try eating smaller meals and cutting back on high-fat. Dry toast and plain, unsalted crackers may make you feel better when you’re queasy. Avoiding sodas and adding natural remedies like ginger to your diet might help too.

    Bonus tip: Just be sure to make any dietary changes gradually, so you don’t overwhelm your body.

  • Iron Up

    Iron Up

    A study conducted in 2009 found that PAH is aggravated when your body lacks iron. Try incorporating more red meat and dark, leafy greens into your diet. Your body will better absorb iron if you include foods rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.

    Bonus tip: Fresh citrus juices or a few slices of mango or papaya are good sources of vitamin C too—and a great addition to a healthy breakfast.

  • Get More Garlic

    Get More Garlic

    One study researched the effects of garlic on rats with PAH. The study found that a compound in garlic called allicin helped to widen blood vessels and keep blood pressure down. Add raw or cooked garlic to dishes to help keep blood pressure down.

    Bonus tip: Make sure to eat garlic within an hour of chopping it, or you won’t receive the benefits that allicin provides.

  • Don’t Overdo Vitamin K

    Don’t Overdo Vitamin K

    Though dark, leafy greens are a good source of iron, they also contain a considerable amount of vitamin K. However, too much of this vitamin may affect how well your blood-thinning medicine works. This conflict might sound confusing, but it’s possible to find a balance and satisfy your body’s need for iron while monitoring your vitamin K intake. Ask your doctor how much is safe to allow into your diet.

  • Keep a Journal

    Keep a Journal

    It’s important to remember that each body is different and will react uniquely to changes in diet. If you’re going through a diet makeover, you might benefit from a food diary. It can help you stay on track and monitor how certain foods affect your body.

    Your diary doesn’t have to be extensive. Jot down when you eat, what you eat, and how you feel each day. This will help you discover what makes your body feel its best, and help your doctor to better understand your condition.

  • Know Your Body

    Know Your Body

    Managing your PAH is critical to how you feel and could even save your life. It’s important to work with your doctor to develop a plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

    It’s true that there are more dietary restrictions when you suffer from PAH, but that doesn’t mean that the quality of your meals needs to suffer. In fact, you may find that your new diet, even without the caffeine, leaves you feeling more energetic than before.

References:

  • Louis, X., Murphy, R., Thandapilly, S., Yu, L., & Netticadan, T. (2012). Garlic extracts prevent oxidative stress, hypertrophy and apoptosis in cardiomyocytes: a role for nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12 (1), 140.
  • Monitoring your fluid intake. (n.d.). Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from http://www.phassociation.org/page.aspx?pid=1605
  • Smith, T. G., Talbot, N. P., Privat, C., Rivera-Ch, M., Nickol, A. H., Ratcliffe, P. J., et al. (2009). Effects of Iron Supplementation and Depletion on Hypoxic Pulmonary Hypertension: Two Randomized Controlled Trials. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 302 (13), 1444-1450.
  • What Is pulmonary hypertension?. (2013, July 5). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pah/
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