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    Monitoring Heart Failure

    Tip 3: Manage Breathing Problems

    If you have increased breathlessness at night, try sleeping in a recliner chair, use more pillows, or get a supportive cushion so that you are resting more upright.

    To breathe better:

    • Listen to your body and slow down when you’re short of breath.
    • Take breaks throughout the day: read, pay bills, write letters, use the computer for fun.
    • Use music, meditation, or yoga to ease stress.

    If you feel breathlessness, short of breath, or you have trouble breathing, talk with your doctor. He may ask you to:

    • Have less sodium for a couple of days.
    • Have less liquid for a couple of days.

    If neither of these help, call your doctor. He may need to adjust your medications.

    Tip 4: See Your Doctor Regularly

    Keep all your appointments with your care team. It’ll increase your chances of staying on track with your treatment plan. If you have questions about your condition, write them down and bring them with you to your appointments.

    If you have urgent questions, call when you have them.

    If you see any other doctor, let him know about your heart failure medications and your diet or fluid restrictions.

    Keep your list of medications (names, dosages, and times taken) and allergies with you to answer questions that a doctor or nurse may ask you. If another doctor prescribes any other drugs, call your heart failure doctor before taking them.

    • Make sure you know how to treat yourself if you have a virus, the flu, or a fever. Remember: Do not take any over-the-counter drugs unless you ask your doctor first.
    • Talk to your doctor if you are having sexual problems or depression.
    • Talk to your doctor about getting the flu shot every year and the pneumonia vaccine so you can stay healthy.

    Tip 5: Quit Smoking and Using Tobacco

    You probably know how smoking can be harmful. For a person with heart failure, smoking and using tobacco causes your blood pressure to rise and raises your risk for heart disease and many other conditions.

    If you quit, you will likely:

    • Prolong your life
    • Improve your health
    • Feel healthier
    • Look better (smoking can cause face wrinkles, stained teeth, yellow-stained fingers, and dull skin)
    • Improve your sense of taste and smell
    • Save money

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on May 23, 2014
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