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    How to Live Your Best Life With Heart Failure


    2. Take your medicine.

    It may seem obvious, but with heart failure, it's crucial. The sooner you get a handle on it, the better.

    Some of the medicines your doctor may recommend include:

    ACE inhibitors: These will relax blood vessels to keep your blood pressure low and reduce the load on your heart.

    Beta-blockers: These will lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate.

    Digoxin: It strengthens the force of the heart muscle's contractions and slows the heart rate.

    Diuretics: These are also known as “water pills.”

    Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): These also relax blood vessels and make it easier for your heart to do its job.

    Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine: This also relaxes blood vessels.

    These can also help you:

    • Live longer
    • Breathe easier
    • Have more energy
    • Get more active
    • Have less swelling
    • Stay out of the hospital

    Durant says that every day she takes about five different medications. Every Saturday, she sits down in front of a pillbox marked with each day of the week and fills it with her daily medications. That’s it. She’s to the point now where taking pills is second nature.

    3. Get involved with your health care team.

    Talk to your doctors regularly. Durant has three of them -- a cardiologist, a sarcoidosis specialist, and a pacemaker specialist -- she sees every 3 months or so. She has their email addresses, too, in case she needs a question answered in between visits.

    “Feeling comfortable with them is important,” she says, “and being able to trust them and know you’re getting the care you need.”

    When she was first diagnosed, Durant kept a detailed account that she shared with her doctors -- how she felt at different parts of different days, and how her medications, her diet, and her exercise regimen affected her. Many doctors suggest you keep a journal and go over it with your medical team.

    4. Realize you can’t do it all … but do what you can.

    People with heart failure often have things like fatigue, light-headedness, and shortness of breath. But if you rest when you need to and get plenty of sleep, that can make a huge difference.

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