Top 5 Self-Care Tips When You Have Heart Failure

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Heart failure is a chronic condition that can be challenging at times. But with proactive self-care, you can get into a healthy routine that can improve your condition and help you live your best life.

Taking these easy steps — and making them a part of your daily self-care routine — can improve how you’re feeling and help reduce your risk of complications and even hospitalization.

Understand Your Symptoms

There are different types of heart failure, all caused by a damaged or weakened heart. Any heart failure diagnosis brings with it signs and symptoms that can be ongoing or sudden. It’s important to understand these symptoms and talk to your doctor if they arise or worsen. An important part of self-care is watching closely for the following:

  • A dry, persistent cough
  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath either sudden or severe
  • Swelling in your ankles, legs or abdomen

Take Your Medications Daily as Prescribed

A combination of lifestyle changes and medicine can help you best manage heart failure. Depending on your symptoms and any other diagnosed medical condition, your doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker, an inhibitor, a diuretic or in severe cases of heart failure an intravenous medication. Make sure you keep a list of your medications with you at all times and take each one exactly as prescribed. If you ever have questions about your medications be sure to ask your doctor.

Check Your Weight Every Morning

If weight is a concern, your doctor or your dietitian can provide a plan to help you reach your ideal weight. Sudden weight gain can mean fluid is building in your body and your heart failure condition is changing. Gaining even five pounds can cause symptoms to become worse. Follow these tips to monitor your weight correctly:

  • Do not wear shoes when weighing yourself
  • Keep a calendar or journal next to your scale and write down your weight every day
  • Know your baseline weight
  • Use the same scale to weigh yourself every day
  • Weigh yourself every day at the same time, preferably in the morning before you’ve eaten

Choose a Heart-Healthy Diet

Making healthy food choices might mean a lifestyle change. Although it may not be easy, it’s important to try your best. Most importantly, reducing your salt (sodium) intake will have a significant and direct impact on your symptoms. Since salt causes fluid build-up and leads to sudden weight gain, following a low-salt diet can keep swelling down and your blood pressure at a normal rate. These suggestions can help you stay on track:

  • Choose plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Don’t add salt or high-salt ingredients when cooking a meal
  • Eat whole foods and lean protein
  • Follow diet recommendations
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Season food with herbs and spices

Keep All Follow-Up Appointments

Heart failure is a long-term condition. You’ll likely have regularly scheduled appointments to monitor symptoms. Work to build a good relationship with your doctor and make the most of your appointments. During your appointments:

  • Ask questions and write down answers
  • Be honest about how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally
  • Inform your doctor of any changes in your condition (especially if any symptoms have worsened)
  • Share your weight journal
  • Talk about any changes you need to make to your health care routine

Feel empowered and know that you can still thrive with a heart failure diagnosis. Trust your partner in health and heart experts to guide you on the right path to feeling your best and nurturing your whole health in body, mind and spirit.

Learn more about our world-class expertise and first-class care for heart failure.

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