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 use a supportive cushion so that you are resting more upright.
Tips to improve breathing:
- Listen to your body and slow down when you are short of breath.
- Conserve your energy by taking breaks throughout the day: read, pay bills, write letters, use the computer for fun.
- Relax: use music, meditation, or yoga as alternative ways to decrease stress.
If you have increased breathlessness, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, follow the guidelines below (but be sure to get your doctor's approval first):
- 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 still have difficulty breathing after restricting salt and fluid for two days, call your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your medications.
Tip 4: See Your Doctor Regularly
- Keep all scheduled appointments with your health care providers. Frequent contact with your doctor or nurse will 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 your doctor.
- If you see any other doctor, notify him or her about your heart failure medications and diet or fluid restrictions. Keep your list of medications (names, dosages, and times taken) and allergies in your wallet or purse to answer questions that the 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've probably heard how smoking can be harmful. For a person with heart failure, smoking and using tobacco causes your blood pressure to rise and increases your risk for heart disease. Here are some ways quitting can be helpful. If you quit, you will likely:
- Prolong your life.
- Improve your health (smoking increases your risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, gum disease, and other conditions).
If you quit, you will likely:
- Feel healthier (smoking can cause coughing, poor athletic ability, and sore throats).
- Look better (smoking can cause face wrinkles, stained teeth, yellow-stained fingers, and dull skin).
- Improve your sense of taste and smell.
- Save money.