Living With Heart Failure
Remember that managing heart failure means ongoing care and monitoring of your health. Following your treatment plan is essential. Be sure to keep any follow-up appointments and tests. Following a low-salt diet and taking your medications reliably is very important. It’s often helpful to keep a log with your daily weight, blood pressure and physical activity.
Today, there are many life-saving medications and therapies that help people live well with the disease.
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Tips for living with heart failure
- Create a support team
- Check and record your weight every day, along with a log of your daily blood pressure and exercise
- Listen to your body and know when the condition might be getting worse. For example, do you notice:
- rapid weight gain
- labored breathing, especially when laying down
- not being able to concentrate
- Report problems right away—stay connected with your heart failure team and report changes in weight or new symptoms
- Accept your new normal
- Stay connected to the things you love to do, even if it means you might need to participate in a different way or cut back a bit
- It’s OK if daily tasks seem to take longer
- Share your concerns—for example, many people are scared about over-exerting their heart, but exercise is very important
- Take your medications exactly as directed
- Ask about and take advantage of cardiac rehabilitation
- Bring a trusted friend or family member to your appointments
- Make sure you have a living will and advanced directives in place
Talking to your care team
It is important to talk openly with your health care team about how you are feeling and share any concerns you have related to your condition or treatment. Heart failure can get worse over time, so keep your doctor up to speed on how you’re feeling, and if you have trouble doing certain activities.
Questions to ask:
- What type of heart failure do I have?
- What health checks should I be doing and recording on a daily basis (weight, blood pressure, pulse)?
- How will I know if my condition is getting worse? When should I call 9-1-1?
- What is my goal weight?
- If I notice that I am weighing more, at what point should I call you?
- How much exercise can I do and what activities are best? Is it safe for me to exercise on my own?
- Can you review each of the medications I am taking and what they do?
- How much salt can I consume daily?
- How much water/fluids can I drink a day?
- Would I benefit from an ICD?
- Would I benefit from cardiac rehabilitation?
- How often will I need to have my heart checked?
Published: October 2015; updated 9/16/2016
Medical Reviewer: David E. Lanfear, MD, MS, FACC, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI