Fortunately, in recent years there have been important advances in understanding the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension as well as in its treatment, which provides a good dose of hope to the patients.
Nutritional support is offered within the program of pulmonary rehabilitation to patients with low weight or at risk of low weight with interventions that seek to improve the body mass index. Nutritional intervention (food education and calorie restricted diet) is also provided to patients with obesity and overweight, with a view to decreasing the body mass index.
In patients with pulmonary hypertension who have heart failure should be included nutritional recommendations related to the consumption of macro- and micronutrients, adjust the percentage of proteins in those with cardiac cachexia (state of extreme malnutrition) and take into account that diets rich in sodium predispose to water overload and increases in decompensation of the disease.
What Foods Are Good For Pulmonary Hypertension?
How should the patient who suffers from pulmonary hypertension eat? The patient does not have to follow a special or complicated diet in these cases. The recommended dietary guidelines for those suffering from this disease are very close to a usual healthy diet. Thus, if we follow the advice of the experts, a patient with pulmonary hypertension should:
- Control the contribution of calories from the diet, and its origin, to maintain a healthy weight.
- Decrease the consumption of refined carbohydrates, giving priority to whole grains.
- Avoid foods rich in saturated fats, cholesterol and hydrogenated fats (trans) and preferably consume fats in the form of blue fish, nuts and olive oil.
- Increase the consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium and magnesium, such as fruits and vegetables; it is essential to avoid fluid retention.
- Increase the proportion of fiber in the diet.
- Decrease salt intake.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that anticoagulant drugs are very present in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension and that there are often many doubts about their incompatibility with certain foods. What criteria do doctors follow today?
Feeding and Anticoagulation
To prevent small thrombi from obstructing the already narrowed pulmonary arteries, some patients with pulmonary hypertension are given anticoagulants.
People often hear about foods that are prohibited on these occasions, such as those rich in vitamin K, since this micronutrient is closely related to coagulation and could interfere with medication, but now physicians agree to advise a varied and balanced diet where they are not prohibited food due to the anticoagulant treatment and there are no drastic changes in the intake as unbalanced weight loss diets.
It has been reported that foods rich in vitamin K (dark yellow vegetables or green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, romaine lettuce, chicory, kale, beet, asparagus and some kinds of fermented soybeans) should be controlled in the diet of anticoagulated patients, but as inappropriate it is consuming an excessive amount of this type of food as is to stop taking them completely since their diet would be deficient in vitamin K and could cause danger of hemorrhage.
In addition to the cited foods, there are also other less known sources of vitamin K, such as kiwis and dried fruits such as figs, raisins and prunes. On the other hand, hydrogenated vegetable oils contained in margarines and industrial pastries, fast food and precooked foods are not advisable.
Also, alcoholic beverages can influence the effect of anticoagulants. Consumption of alcohol is discouraged (increases the effect of anticoagulant medication).
As we can see, the important thing is that the diet, in addition to being varied and balanced, follows stable patterns where a single food does not predominate more than others and where the daily intake of calories and nutrients is, as far as possible, more or less constant.
In patients with pulmonary hypertension, a strong correlation has been found between markers of nutritional status and markers of congestion, with the severity of hypertension, that is why even when there are no specific guidelines for these patients, it is vital for them to have a really balanced diet.
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