Sodium and Sugar Control
Sodium (Na+) restriction is a crucial component of diet after heart surgery. Sodium or dietary salt raises blood pressure, increases the mass of the left ventricle, thickens and stiffens conduit arteries, and thickens and narrows resistance arteries, including the coronary and renal arteries. All these tend to increase the possibility of strokes and the severity of cardiac failure. For this reason, dieticians recommend a 2,000 mg low-sodium diet for heart surgery patients.
Some of the most common foods high in sodium include ham, bacon, frankfurters, sausages, dried beef, canned fish, canned meat, sardines, pepperoni, smoked salmon, caviar, cheese, peanut butter, and frozen TV dinners. Vegetables high in sodium include vegetables prepared in brine, olives, pickles, vegetables packed with sauces or seasonings, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and frozen peas. Other foods high in sodium include bread and rolls with salt toppings, corn chips, potato chips, salted pretzels, salted popcorn, and other salted snack foods, as are most liquid foods such as diet sodas, canned and instant soups, salted mixed vegetable juice, tomato juice and commercially prepared stews.
Patients also need to restrict their sugar intake considerably. Sugar raises insulin level, inhibiting the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, which cause elevated triglyceride levels. It is recommended to avoid all products with high doses of sucrose, including high fructose corn syrup, sweets, and ice cream.