Heart Failure Treatment
How Can I Improve My Quality of Life?
Eat a healthy diet. Limit your consumption of sodium (salt) to less than 2000 milligrams 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.
What Is the Outlook for People With 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 will not stop you from doing the things you enjoy.
Everyone with a long-term illness, such as heart failure, should discuss their desires for extended medical care with their doctor and family. An advance directive or living will is one way to let everyone know your wishes. A living will expresses your desires about the use of medical treatments to prolong your life. This document is prepared while you are fully competent in case you are unable to make these decisions at a later time.