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
- 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
Heart failure can also lead to other health problems. These
- Trouble with your heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
- Heart attack.
- Mitral valve regurgitation.
- Blood clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Your doctor may be able to give you medicine or other
treatment to prevent or treat these problems.