5 Important Items to Have After New Heart Failure Diagnosis

Getting a new diagnosis like heart failure can be totally overwhelming. At the hospital, you will talk to so many different dietitians, nurses, educators, and doctors that your head may feel like it is spinning and you haven't retained anything. They will likely have given you a long list of instructions on what to do and what not to do once you get home.

So, let’s look at the top 5 things you need to have at home after being diagnosed with heart failure. This is my opinion from my experience working with heart patients.

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Top 5 items after a heart failure diagnosis

A scale

It is essential that you have a well-working scale because you may need to weigh yourself daily after using the bathroom but before you eat. Your weight is a major factor in how you are doing. The scale does not have to be anything fancy – it just needs to be accurate.

That said, if you are a tech-savvy person I would suggest a Renpho scale or something similar. It is a scale that connects to an app on your phone. It measures so much more than your weight. It also measures your BMI, body water, and much more.

A blood pressure cuff/machine

Some of the medications used for treating heart failure can cause low blood pressure or heart rate. Most doctors will want you to check your blood pressure at least once a day (if not more) and keep track of it as you go. Having a blood pressure machine or manual cuff (if you or someone at home knows how to properly use it) is essential.

Your doctor/facility will have certain parameters that will tell you when you need to call them or report to the emergency room (ER). Make sure you know those parameters.

A pulse oximeter

This is another essential item that you might need to have at home. This is what reads your heart rate and oxygen saturation. Your doctor will let you know if they want you to be monitoring this information. If so, your doctor/facility will tell you about the parameters for these measurements. They will tell you what numbers are okay just to call the office and what numbers are an automatic trip to the hospital.

Pill organizer

For some people, pill organization may not be as important as the other items on this list. But I always encouraged my patients to get them no matter how many medicines they were taking. In my opinion, a pill organizer provides a sense of security. It makes it so very easy to see that you did or did not take your meds on any given day – or any given time of day.

I cannot tell you how many times I cannot remember if I have taken my day or night time meds and was able to go look at my pill box and see.

A journal or notebook

This one may seem odd to you. But honestly, in my books, a journal or notebook is right up there in importance with all the other items. A journal can be used for many different purposes and will go with you to every doctor's appointment.

I’ll share what I encouraged my patients to do, as well as the things that I do. Once you get your notebook or whatever you decide to use, take some time and divide it into a few sections. Leave a few pages at the front for your medications and any changes that will come. You will need a section for the blood pressure and heart rates you take at home, as well as a section for the weigh-ins you take every day. I would leave some room at the back for another section or two, just to be safe.

At the very front, I keep a detailed list of my medications. That way when I go to the doctor, I can pull out my notebook and have an updated list. I do suggest leaving a few pages, because there will be medication changes over time.

Also, having all your weigh-in numbers, blood pressure measurements, and heart rate numbers all in one place when you go to the doctor will make them very happy. One thing I have learned from being a nurse at the bedside, and as a person with a chronic illness, is that providers are more apt to listen when they can see what you're saying on paper.

Are there any other important items that you would recommend someone have after their heart failure diagnosis? Leave a comment in the section below!

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