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Heart Failure Dos and Don’ts

As with any chronic disease, it often takes time to learn the dos and don’ts of living with heart failure. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Dos and dont's of heart failure

Do seek help when you need it. The earlier you ask your doctor for help, the easier it is to get you feeling better.

Don’t delay seeking help. The longer you wait, the harder it is for your healthcare team to get you feeling better.

Do take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If you want to change or stop any of your current medicines, consult your physician first.

Don’t stop taking your medicine just because you are feeling better.

Do talk to your doctor if you think you are experiencing side effects due to a medicine you are taking. Your doctor can let you know if the symptom is indeed a side effect. Or your doctor may have other ideas.

Don’t stop taking a medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Do find a community like ours where you can meet and talk to people who are also living with heart failure.

Don’t try to do it all on your own.

Do see your doctor as often as your doctor recommends. This may be once a year, every 6 months, or even more often.

Don’t skip your doctor’s appointments.

Do learn as much as you can about your disease. (Of course, you can do so right here in our free heart-failure.net community!)

Don’t avoid learning about heart failure. The more you know the better equipped you are to manage your disease. Learning also helps you understand your doctor.

Do be your own best advocate. You know more about you than anyone else. Talk to your doctor about concerns you have. Ask any questions you have and expect answers.

Don’t hold out on talking to your doctor about things that concern you. Also, don't leave your appointments before having all of your questions answered.

Do create a system for organizing your medicine. Some people like to use pill boxes where you can put all your pills for a given day.  Another idea is to set an alarm for when your medicines are due. This can be especially helpful if your medicines are due at various times during the day.

Don’t forget to take your medicine.

Do stay as active as you can. Staying active – even if it’s a simple walk around your room – is a great way to keep your muscles strong and your heart and lungs in good working order.

Don’t stay sedentary all day. Being inactive can cause your muscles to atrophy, and this causes your muscles to become weaker over time, making it even harder to stay active.

Do pace yourself. Sure, you want to stay active, but you must do so at a pace that is good for YOU.

Don't push yourself to the point of exhaustion. It's a balancing act. You want to stay active, but you also must find a pace that is right for your body.

Do tell your doctor right away if you are experiencing new or worsening symptoms. Your doctor can advise you on what to do next. This can help prevent a heart failure flare-up. It may also prevent you from being admitted to the hospital.

Don’t ignore your early warning symptoms thinking they will go away. Don't blame them on being out of shape or aging.

Do weigh yourself daily. If you are gaining weight, this may be due to water retention, which is an early sign of a flare-up. If you are gaining weight, let your doctor know right away.

Don’t assume weight gain is just normal for you. Weight gain may be a sign that your heart is struggling and you are retaining water.

Do talk to your doctor about what you can and cannot eat. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian to help you find the best diet for you. A dietitian, or your doctor, may also recommend that you watch your salt intake. Too much salt can cause your blood pressure to increase.

Don’t ignore your doctor’s dietary recommendations. I know it's tough to stick to a new diet. Still, it is the best way to keep healthy when you are living with heart failure.

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If you are living with heart failure, you may have some additional dos and don'ts to add to this list. Feel free to do so in the comments below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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