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Heart Failure Health Center

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Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Failure


3. What Is the Outlook for People With Heart Failure?

If you have heart failure, your prognosis or outlook for the future will depend on how well your heart muscle is functioning, your symptoms, and how well you respond to and follow your treatment plan. With the right care, heart failure may not stop you from doing the things you enjoy.

4. What Drugs Are Used to Treat Heart Failure?

Common types of medications used to treat heart failure include:

5. What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

A cardiac rehab program is designed to help you exercise safely and maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. The program generally includes a tailored exercise program, education, and help with changing your risk factors (such as quitting smoking and changing your diet). Cardiac rehab programs also offer emotional support. The program allows you to meet others like yourself who can help you stay on track to maintain a healthier heart.

6. How Much Salt Can I Have?

If you have heart failure, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) of sodium per day.

7. What Heart Failure Symptoms Warrant a Call to my Doctor?

If you have heart failure and any unusual symptoms, do not wait until your next appointment to discuss them with your doctor. Call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Unexplained weight gain -- two pounds in one day or five pounds in one week
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen that has become worse
  • Shortness of breath that has become worse or occurs more often, especially if you wake up short of breath
  • A feeling of fullness (bloating) in your stomach with a loss of appetite or nausea
  • Extreme fatigue or decreased ability to complete daily activities
  • A respiratory (lung) infection or a cough that has become worse
  • Fast heart rate (above 100 beats per minute, or as directed by your doctor)
  • New irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort during activity that is relieved with rest
  • Difficulty breathing during regular activities or at rest
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty sleeping or feeling the need to sleep a lot more than usual
  • Decreased urination
  • Restlessness, confusion
  • Constant dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or poor appetite

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