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Monitoring Heart Failure

When it comes to heart failure, the patient plays an active role in tracking his or her condition. This article provides five tips to help you actively monitor your heart failure.

Tip 1: Weigh Yourself Daily

  • Use the same scale.
  • Wear similar clothing each time you weigh yourself.
  • Weigh yourself at the same time each day (for example, when you get up in the morning, before eating and after urinating).
  • Record your weight in a diary or on a calendar.

Call your doctor if you gain two or more pounds in one day or five or more pounds in one week.

With your doctor's approval, follow the guidelines below if you notice any signs of increased swelling or fluid retention, including: your belt seems tighter, your belly seems more swollen, your clothes don't fit as well, your feet and ankles become swollen, your shoes become tight, or your shoe laces seem shorter.

  • Eliminate 500 mg of salt from your diet for two days (today and tomorrow).
  • Decrease the liquids you drink by 1 and 1/2 cups (360 cc) for two days (today and tomorrow).
  • If you do not notice a decrease in body fluid or a decrease in weight after restricting sodium and fluid for two days, call your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your medications.


Tip 2: Monitor Your Fluid Intake

If your doctor requires you to restrict your fluids, record the amount of liquids you drink/eat every day. You may need to restrict your fluids to 8 cups (which is equal to 64 ounces or 2 quarts) every 24 hours. Recording your intake will help ensure that you are not taking in more fluids than you should.

To properly record your fluid intake, you need to learn the number of cc's or ml's in common servings. Some sample measurements are included below.

Fluid Measurements

1 ml = 1 cc
1 ounce = 30 cc
8 ounces = 240 cc
1 cup = 8 ounces = 240 cc
4 cups = 32 ounces = 1 quart

Sample Measurements

Coffee cup = 200 cc
8 ounce glass = 240 cc
Milk carton = 240 cc
Small milk carton = 120 cc
Juice, gelatin or ice cream cup = 120 cc
Soup bowl = 160 cc
Popsicle half = 40 cc

Some foods are considered to be fluids, including:

  • Pudding
  • Gelatin (Jell-O)
  • Soups (thin or thick)
  • Popsicles
  • Ice cream

One way to keep track of your fluid intake is to fill a 2-quart pitcher to the top with water and place it in an accessible place in the kitchen. Every time you drink or eat something that is considered a fluid, remove the same amount of water from the pitcher/bottle. When the pitcher/bottle is empty, you have had your limit of fluids for the day.

Note: being thirsty does not mean your body needs more fluid. You need to be careful NOT to replace the fluids that diuretics (water pills) have helped your body get rid of. Here are some tips for decreasing thirst:

  • Nibble on frozen grapes or strawberries.
  • Suck on ice chips (not cubes), a sucker, or washcloth soaked in ice-cold water.
  • Cover your lips with petroleum jelly, flavored lip balm, or lip moisturizer.
  • Suck on hard candy or chew gum (sugarless).

Record your urine output, as recommended by your doctor.

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