Helpful Routines and Lifestyle Changes of Heart Failure Patient Leaders
A heart failure diagnosis can come with so many feelings and changes that may need to be made. Our Patient Leader team consists of advocates who are living with heart failure and have had these experiences. We asked them, "Aside from any doctor-prescribed medications, what types of routines, lifestyle changes, or self-care strategies have been helpful for you throughout your journey?" They shared these insights on what has helped them. Have any of these same things helped you?
Routines, lifestyle changes, and self-care
Tina's response was:
"My lifestyle routines are forever evolving. Combining prescribed medications with personalized self-care has been an essential part of overcoming heart failure daily. For me, self-care is maintaining my faith, and mental, social, physical, and emotional health.
Acknowledging that I needed help outside of my faith was a big step. As an LVAD recipient, it was also important that I found a therapist who had experience counseling people with chronic illness and organ transplantation. Having a therapist should be considered a necessary part of self-care. Sort of like going to the dentist.
My fitness journey has taken a hit lately due to a leaky valve. Even still, I try to move within reason and know my limits. I'm not able to go to the gym currently, but I have found other ways to move by using my floor peddler, routines such as yoga, and light exercise free of weights.
Enjoying life and living freely is the entire reason I continue this fight to overcome heart failure. Connecting with others by staying socially active helps me to live life. I've created online and face-to-face support groups for this purpose alone. To provide myself and others a space to share, connect, and live despite a diagnosis."
"Staying compliant is important, and routines and dealing with your mental health are critical. The battle is mental for a lot of us, so do not ignore how you are feeling and seek help when needed."
"The strategies that have been most helpful for me throughout my journey are self-care, cardiac rehabilitation, and low-impact exercises. Self-care in general was not something I practiced because I felt it was selfish given the other demands I had in my life. Having been a single mother for most of my adult life, my priorities were always based on my children’s needs at different points in their life. I took such joy in doing things for and with them that I forgot to do things for myself. However, I learned how self-care was equally as (if not more) important because not doing so may compromise my health further.
Cardiac rehabilitation was another routine that was critical following my LVAD surgery. No one realizes just how much work the body does until it stops working properly. This was essential to just regaining some ability to become independent again. It also laid the foundation for what would later be my recovery.
Low-impact exercises were important as well. And I mean LOW impact, like slowly building up endurance by working up the strength to complete one flight of stairs without struggling. Today, I can walk at least one mile without running out of breath and even swim at least half of a lap in a pool."
What has helped you in your heart failure journey?
Self-care is different for everyone, just like routines and lifestyles are different for each person living with heart failure. We'd love to hear what works for you! Share your story by clicking the button below!
Have you taken our In America Survey yet?