Doctors diagnose heart failure by taking a medical history and conducting a physical exam and tests.
During the medical history your doctor will want to know if:
You have any other health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease, angina (chest pain), high blood pressure, or other heart problems
You drink alcohol, and if so, how much
You are taking medications.
During the physical, the doctor will check your blood pressure, use a stethoscope to hear sounds associated with...
Control the salt in your diet. Lowering the amount of sodium you eat to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day is one of the most important ways to manage heart failure.
Learn to read food labels. Use the information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.
Eat a variety of foods. This will help make sure you get all the nutrients you need.
Include high-fiber foods in your diet. Fiber helps move food along your digestive tract, controls blood sugar levels, and may reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. Vegetables, beans, whole-grain foods, bran, and fresh fruit are high in fiber. You should have 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day.
Keep track of how much you’re drinking. Have less (including soup) if you have shortness of breath or notice swelling. Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should be drinking each day.
Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you’re overweight. Limit the number of calories you have each day. Exercise regularly to get to or keep your ideal weight.
Cut back on alcohol. It can affect your heart rate and worsen your heart failure. Your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol may also interact with the medications you are taking. Questions? Ask your doctor for guidelines.
Nutrition labels and an ingredient list are required on most foods so you can make the best choice for a healthy lifestyle.
If you have trouble reading the food label, meet with a registered dietitian. He can review the label with you and clear up any confusion.