In This Article

By Cedric Hayes Sr., as told to Kara Meyer Robinson

I’m a 61-year-old entrepreneur, pastor, and musician. I’m also the founder and director of the Gloryland Pastor’s Choir in Little Rock, AR, where I live.

Two years ago, in many ways, my life changed.

I noticed I was short of breath all the time, dizzy, and extremely fatigued. At age 59, I was hospitalized for COVID. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

After I was hospitalized, a lot of things had to change. I started treatment, made lifestyle changes, and learned how to take care of myself in a different way.

I still have breathing problems and some shortness of breath, but I’m recovering. 

Managing Different Conditions

It’s a little more complicated to manage different conditions at the same time. It’s not just chronic heart failure. I also have to take care of my high blood pressure and diabetes.

During the last 2 years, I’ve been under the care of 10 health care providers, ranging from a cardiologist to a nutritionist. They continue to monitor my heart, which was once barely functioning but is now improving.

After I was hospitalized, I did a few weeks of physical therapy to regain my strength. Physical therapy helped me start walking normally again. It also helped me get back to playing the piano.

Now I take cholesterol medication, blood pressure medication, a beta-blocker, and a calcium channel blocker for my heart. My diabetes treatment consists of taking an oral diabetes drug, eating healthy, and being active.

I hope that one day soon I won’t have to take all these medications. But for now, I’m thankful that I no longer have to take insulin injections. My change in diet helped me to get off insulin. Food really can heal our bodies.

Taking Lifestyle Changes Seriously

It’s not just medication that helps. I do a lot of other things to take care of my health. My treatment also consists of exercise, eating healthy, and having regular checkups.

I had to be aggressive with my lifestyle changes. I wanted to keep living and to be here for my family, so I took these changes seriously.

During this journey I’ve been on the last few years, I’ve learned to read food labels and make healthier choices even when it comes to oils, sauces, and foods you don’t always think about.

The biggest thing I did was eliminate sugar and starches from my diet. Also, for several months I didn’t eat any meat, desserts, or snacks. I eat more fruits and vegetables now. I don’t eat a lot of meat or drink sodas. I also drink lots of water from our natural spring, which is in Hot Springs, AR.

For exercise, I try to walk a couple of times a week. I also do yard work here and there. I’m getting back to playing and rehearsing choirs, which is a good activity for me. All these things keep me active.

Life With Heart Failure, High Blood Pressure, and Diabetes

To manage my life with chronic heart failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes, I do my best to follow my doctor’s instructions by taking my meds and getting plenty of rest.

In the beginning, it was very challenging because I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel like Cedric. But now I know what it takes to manage from day to day, and I stay positive.

I try to travel and do fun things with my wife, Tracy, and my family to keep my mind off my health issues. This helps to alleviate stress.

A whole lot of prayer, faith, and supportive family and friends have made this process a lot easier to manage. That’s how I’ve been able to keep my sanity and continue to fight on.

What I Learned About Heart Failure

When you hear the words “heart failure,” you think it means your heart is failing. I was surprised to learn that heart failure is manageable. I didn’t know that even though my heart doesn’t function at 100% capacity, I can still live and it can get better.

My advice for people diagnosed with chronic heart failure is to take it one day at a time, know that it’s not always a death sentence, and try to maintain a positive outlook.

The greatest challenge for me is knowing that I’ve been diagnosed with heart failure. It’s a constant challenge to work on improving my heart, and it’s a challenge to not allow it to get me down emotionally.

But I’ve learned how to manage chronic heart failure and its challenges by choosing to live as a normal, healthy person.

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Photo Credit: adamkaz / Getty Images


Cedric Hayes Sr., 61, entrepreneur, pastor, and musician, Little Rock, AR.