Heart Failure Treatment
How Can I Prevent Further Heart Damage?
To help prevent further heart damage:
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Reach and maintain your healthy weight.
- Control high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes.
- Exercise regularly.
- Do not drink alcohol.
What Drugs Should I Avoid if I Have Heart Failure?
Several different types of medications are best avoided in those with heart failure. These include:
- Certain painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Motrin.
- Most calcium channel blockers (especially older versions like Calan, Cardizem, Covera, Procardia, and Isoptin) if you have systolic heart failure.
- Some nutritional supplements and growth hormone therapies.
- Antacids that contain sodium (salt).
- Decongestants such as Sudafed (they make your heart work harder).
If you are taking any of these drugs, discuss them with your doctor. It is important to know the names of your medications, what they are used for, and how often and at what times you take them. Keep a list of your medications and bring them with you to each of your doctor visits. Never stop taking your medications without discussing it with your doctor. Even if you have no symptoms, your medications help your heart pump more effectively.
How Can I Improve My Quality of Life?
Eat a healthy diet. Limit your consumption of sodium (salt) to less than 2,000 milligrams (2 grams) each day. Eat foods high in fiber and potassium. Limit foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar. Reduce total daily intake of calories to lose weight if necessary.
Exercise regularly. A regular cardiovascular exercise program, prescribed by your doctor, will improve symptoms and strength and make you feel better. It may also decrease heart failure progression.
Don't overdo it. Plan your activities and include rest periods during the day.
Prevent respiratory infections. Ask your doctor about flu and pneumonia vaccines.
Take your medications as prescribed. Do not stop taking them without first contacting your doctor.
Get emotional or psychological support if needed. Heart failure can be difficult for your whole family. If you have questions, ask your doctor or nurse. If you need emotional support, social workers, psychologists, clergy, and heart failure support groups are a phone call away. Ask your doctor or nurse to point you in the right direction.
Heart Failure Treatment Is a Team Effort
Heart failure management is a team effort, and you are the key player on the team. Your heart doctor will prescribe your medications and manage other medical problems. Other team members, including nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, exercise specialists, and social workers, will help you achieve success. But it is up to you to take your medications, make dietary changes, live a healthy lifestyle, keep your follow-up appointments, and be an active member of the team.