Listen to your body and take note of what activities are easy or hard for you to do from one day to the next. This is one of the best ways to tell how you—and your heart—are doing.
You might start by:
» Learning what a good day looks and feels like. What about a bad day?
When and how do you feel limited by your symptoms? Many people say they know their heart failure is getting worse when they feel very drained, zapped of energy or more easily out of breath even though they haven’t been doing very much.
This is different and separate from feeling tired after traveling or a big event, which is often expected with—and without—heart failure.
» Asking yourself a few questions.
» Watching for—and reporting—signs that your heart failure may be getting worse. If you know the signs, you can do something about them.
Knowing your body and reporting new or worsening symptoms when you first notice them can help you stay out of the hospital and avoid prolonged illness. Your input will also allow you and your care team make the best decisions about your treatment over
Call your care team if you experience:
- Feeling short of breath or much more tired than usual, even with small bouts of activity
- Any obvious swelling in your feet, ankle or legs or abdomen
- Sudden weight gain, which can be a red flag that fluid is building up in your body
- Weigh yourself each morning before breakfast—the danger zone is gaining 3 pounds in a 24-hour period or 5 pounds or more in a week
- Needing to sit upright in a chair or use pillows to prop yourself up to sleep or breath easier
- A stubborn, dry cough
If you feel uneasy or know something is not quite right, speak up! Other people living with heart failure say it's important to follow your gut.