7 Tips for Managing Congestive Heart Failure

If you have had an episode of Congestive Heart Failure, here are 7 of some of the most important things you can do to  increase your quality of life:

1. Take All of Your Heart Medicines
It is of vital importance for people with congestive heart failure, even those with advanced stages of the illness, to strictly adhere to their prescribed drug regimen. 
Taking your medicines doesn't just make you feel better, it can save your life and reduce the chance of a hospitalisation.
Heart failure patients typically take a challenging regimen of five to eight drugs daily. These may include diuretics, blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, aspirin and potassium supplements. To minimise the chance of a missed or repeated dose ask your doctor if there is a once-daily dosing option available. 
If you have difficulty remembering to take your medicines, a companion carer can help you with medication reminders.

2. Cut Back on Sodium
Current guidelines recommend that people with a heart condition should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium a day. To achieve this, you will need to stop using table salt and instead use herbs, spices and other seasonings to add extra flavour to your food.
In addition, cut back on preserved meats from the Deli and also cheese. 
Takeaway fast food and any food sold in a can, bottle or jar may have a lot of sodium and should rarely be eaten due to the preservatives included in the manufacture of the food.
Before turning to salt substitutes, talk to your doctor as salt alternatives may be high in potassium, which is known to be dangerous for people with heart conditions.
Use fresh foods whenever you can. If you do eat commercially prepared foods, look for low-sodium varieties. Read food labels carefully to find how just how much sodium each serving contains. 
If you need help cooking nutritious food at home, or developing a nutrition plan to balance your sodium levels, please contact us at The CareSide for more information.

3. Don’t Smoke or Drink Alcohol
Tobacco smoke contains many toxins, which interfere with the heart’s ability to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
Alcohol weakens the heart's pumping ability. Too much alcohol may cause heart failure or aggravate existing conditions.

4. Record Your Key Indicators
Each day, record your weight and your blood pressure in a log book. If there is any unexpected change in either, call your doctor or home care nurse immediately.
Rapid weight gain could be a sign that your body is retaining fluid and that your medication needs to be adjusted. 
Weigh yourself at the same time each day, preferably after breakfast for a more accurate and reliable reading.

5. Exercise Regularly and Carefully
Walking can help strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system in addition to helping manage your weight, even in cases of advanced heart failure. 
Aim for a gentle 30-minute walk each day.
Don’t walk immediately after eating or in the hot sun.  Avoid any exercise that involves straining to push or pull. If you cannot walk on your own, organise for a companion to help you.

6. Make Sure Your Immunisations Are Current
People with heart conditions are vulnerable to influenza and pneumonia. In fact, pneumonia is a leading cause of death among heart failure patients. Always get your annual flu shot. If you haven’t recently been vaccinated against pneumonia, call your doctor or contact The CareSide to organise one.

7. Rest
People who have had heart failure often find they have trouble breathing while lying down. If you have this problem, try propping yourself up with an extra pillow or two. Try to get a full uninterrupted eight hours of sleep a night. If you feel tired during the day, try haveing a short 15-20 minute nap after lunch. Putting your feet up for a few minutes throughout the day can give your heart a rest and help make you less tired.

For more information on safe and effective Heart-Related care and support, please contact one of our friendly nurses at The CareSide.