Cardiologist, father of former Longhorn kicker, offers healthy heart advice

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As one of Austin’s leading cardiologists, Dr. Paul Tucker has seen the importance of having a healthy heart — he lives it.

While the St. David’s South Austin Medical Center doctor’s heart may still race a bit when he sees his son — Longhorn alumni Justin Tucker, of the Baltimore Ravens — on the field, Tucker takes his own advice and takes a deep breath to get his heartbeat down.

He’s also sharing his advice on the findings of two recently released heart studies.

One study says one egg too many is bad for you. Tucker says one egg has 180 milligrams of cholesterol, all in the yolk of the egg.

Another study says low dose aspirin is also bad for you if you’re not careful. The American Heart Association says you should only have 300 milligrams a day.

A study released by researchers at Northwestern University’s Department of Preventive Medicine and published this month in the medical journal JAMA, found people who eat an additional three or four eggs a week have a higher risk of both heart disease and early death compared to those who eat fewer eggs.

Tucker is not surprised by the finding but says eggs have become a popular go-to food with many high protein diets. He recommends “if you really like eggs, have them in moderation. Don’t have them every single day, a couple times a week. You should probably avoid the bacon because it is pure fat but if you’re going to have eggs, one or two a week is ok.”  

Tucker is more interested in a new recommendation about taking low dose aspirin to prevent against first time heart attacks and strokes. He often prescribes it because he says low dose aspirin is a blood thinner and helps prevent blood from clotting especially if there is plaque in the arteries.

Doctors have long recommended taking a daily low dose aspirin to prevent strokes and heart attacks, but new information from The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends against it — but only for healthy older adults.

“Aspirin does have some real benefits for heart patients and patients at risk for heart problems. The downside is the risk of bleeding, including gastrointestinal bleeding and the risk of intercranial bleeding. Which means we need to really be treating the patient at the highest risk rather than just everybody.”

The findings mean doctors may consider aspirin for certain older high-risk patients, including those having trouble lowering the cholesterol or managing blood sugar as long as there is no increased risk for internal bleeding.

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