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Heart Failure Health Center

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Heart Failure - Topic Overview

Care at home continued...

The best steps you can take are to:

  • Eat less sodium. Sodium causes your body to retain water and makes it harder for your heart to pump. Your doctor may also ask you to limit how much fluid you drink.
  • Get regular exercise. Your doctor can tell you what level of exercise is safe for you, how to check your pulse, and how to know if you are doing too much.
  • Take rest breaks during the day.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Even a few pounds can make a difference.
  • Stop smoking.Smoking damages your heart and makes exercise harder to do.
  • Limit alcohol. Ask your doctor how much, if any, is safe.

Ask your doctor if cardiac rehab is right for you. Rehab can give you education and support that help you learn self-care and build new healthy habits, such as exercise and healthy eating.

To stay as healthy as possible, work closely with your doctor. Have all your tests, and go to all your appointments. It is also important to:

  • Talk to your doctor before you take any new medicine, including nonprescription and prescription drugs, vitamins, and herbs. Some of them may make your heart failure worse.
  • Keep track of your symptoms. Weigh yourself at the same time every day, and write down your weight. Call your doctor if you have a sudden weight gain, a change in your ability to exercise, or any sudden change in your symptoms.

What can you expect if you have heart failure?

Medicines and lifestyle changes can slow or even reverse heart failure for some people. But heart failure often gets worse over time.

Early on, your symptoms may not be too bad. As heart failure gets worse, you may need to limit your activities. Treatment can often help reduce symptoms, but it usually doesn't get rid of them.

Heart failure can also lead to other health problems. These may include:

Your doctor may be able to give you medicine or other treatment to prevent or treat these problems.

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