Ochsner Health System Physicians Offer Healthy Family Mardi Gras Tips

NEW ORLEANS – Mardi Gras is in full swing and people throughout Louisiana and the Gulf South are gearing up for a final week of revelry and celebration. As we approach the peak of Carnival season, various medical experts from Ochsner Health System have provided some last-minute tips on common health issues to be mindful of when taking in all of the festivities.


Protecting the Whole Family

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         Carnival season can be a wonderful experience for families. Between the sights, sounds and, of course, throws, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. “On the parade route, be sure you are respecting the boundaries,” Dr. James Tebbe, Family Medicine physician at Ochsner Health Center – Mid-City, said. “Kids like to get as close as possible to the floats, the bands and the marching clubs because they’re colorful and exciting, but we don’t want to see any kids in the emergency room because they’ve tangled with a float or a trombone. Another thing that we recommend all families to do before heading out to the parade is to take a picture of your children in case someone gets lost. It is also helpful to establish a meeting place in case anyone gets separated during all of the excitement.”


Keeping Your Heart Healthy

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         For people with heart issues, the excessive consumption that comes with Mardi Gras can sometimes lead to problems. For many patients with high blood pressure or a history of congestive heart failure, eating extra salty foods often found on the parade route, like chips or pretzels, can cause their blood pressure to become elevated and also make it difficult for their bodies to regulate fluid. Add in the possibility of them forgetting to take their medication because of all the excitement associated with heading out to a parade and that can lead to a dangerous combination.

         “For those with a history of congestive heart failure or blood pressure issues, elevated salt intake can cause some serious problems,” Dr. Zola M. N’Dandu, cardiologist, Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner, said. “Those with these pre-existing issues can see their blood pressure elevate, swelling in their legs, and even shortness of breath if they aren’t mindful of how much salt they are consuming. It is important to plan ahead, pack some healthier snacks, like baby carrots and hummus, and make sure you have your medicine with you to avoid these issues while celebrating this Carnival season.”


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Avoiding Concussions

         Perhaps not surprisingly, emergency rooms across the New Orleans area tend to see an uptick in concussion related visits during the Carnival season. Often times, the combination of alcohol consumption, scrambling for throws from a float or balcony and unstable footing on both the sidewalk and neutral ground sides result in trips and falls that can cause concussions.

         “To avoid head injuries during Mardi Gras, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, making a mental note of where the sidewalk or neutral ground ends and drops down to the street,” Dr. Jose Posas, a neurologist from Ochsner Baptist, said. “Another important point would be to exercise moderation when using alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a known suppressant of the central nervous system and the mechanism that maintains balance within the brain and inner ear, which can result in falls.”

         Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 60 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year.

         Ochsner employs more than 17,000 employees and over 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment.

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