While it’s true that heart failure does not currently have a cure, there are several ways to manage this chronic condition and reduce your risk of developing complications. Between medical intervention and home care measures, you can live comfortably and ensure that you stay as healthy as possible.
Take Medications as Directed.
Your doctor might prescribe one or more medications, such as ACE inhibitors or beta blockers, to help you manage your symptoms. It’s crucial that you take these medications exactly as directed by your doctor. Set reminders for yourself so that you don’t forget to take them on time. Let your doctor know right away if you experience any side effects, so adjustments to the amount or type of medications you take can be made.
Watch Your Weight
Staying at a healthy weight can help relieve symptoms and might even prevent your condition from getting worse. Losing excess weight can help you manage underlying conditions that could make your heart problems worse, such as diabetes. Keeping track of your weight is also important because your body could start retaining too much fluid. Let your doctor know if you gain five pounds or more in one week.
Choose Foods and Drinks Carefully
Eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight. Avoiding foods that can make your condition worse is highly important. Limit your intake of the following:
• Salt: Eating too much salt can be hard on your heart because your body ends up retaining a lot of water. Keep in mind that processed foods typically contain high amounts of sodium.
• Fats and cholesterol: Eat low amounts of foods with saturated fats, Tran’s fats and cholesterol. Eating too much of these foods can lead to a higher risk of heart complications.
• Beverages: You might have to limit your fluid intake if your condition is severe. Otherwise, your body will retain too much water. You should also avoid drinking alcohol, which can cause heart problems and interfere with your medications.
Although you have to be careful about the types of physical activities you do, getting at least a moderate amount of exercise on a regular basis is important. Being physically active can help you manage your condition better and keep it from getting worse. Talk to your doctor about which kinds of exercise are safe for you to do.
Stress can take a heavy toll on your heart because it causes it to work harder. If you’re under a lot of stress, try to get enough sleep, take up meditation or yoga and learn other ways to reduce and cope with stress more effectively.
Consider All of Your Options
Talk to your doctor about all of the treatment options that are available for heart failure. In addition to medications and lifestyle changes, your doctor might recommend a surgical procedure, such as a catheter-based treatment or coronary bypass surgery. Discuss the pros and cons of these other options with your doctor before deciding on one.
Clarissa, a nursing student in NJ, loves spending her free time reading, writing and playing with her dogs. She is currently an intern at CardioKinetix where she is learning new treatment options for people facing heart failure symptoms.