a woman wipes her forehead while she mops the floor

Community Shares: How Heart Failure Affects Household Chores

The signs and symptoms of heart failure are all the reasons that household chores become difficult for many: shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and feeling dizzy when bending over. It is no wonder that cleaning the house becomes more of a struggle with this diagnosis.

To start a conversation about how heart failure has affected your ability to maintain your living space, we reached out to community members on our Facebook page and asked: “What household chores or tasks tend to be the hardest due to your heart failure?”

Nearly 250 people with heart failure answered. Here is what was said.

Cleaning

It makes sense that cleaning the bathroom is particularly challenging. Cleaning the toilet, shower, and bathroom floor requires lots of bending over, which is hard on the heart. In that position, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to shortness of breath. There is actually a medical term for having shortness of breath when bending over – bendopnea – and it could be a sign that your heart medicine may need some adjusting.

“Cleaning the shower stalls and bathtubs.”

“Cleaning the tub.”

“I would say cleaning the bathtub and shower.”

Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping are difficult

There is no question that sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping are forms of cardio exercise. You are moving across a wide area and pushing something around, often while bending over, which can be a problem. One solution is the robot vacuum, which can help keep floors tidy so you spend less time bending over. Or, another solution is to reevaluate how clean the floors need to be.

“The hardest is sweeping and mopping the floors. I just have to take a break often on that day.”

“Mopping and vacuuming.”

“Vacuuming – everything I guess, because it all just takes forever to get done.”

“Sweeping.”

Yard work

Yard work in the heat is especially challenging and is one of the biggest chores that the community finds tiring. This makes sense, as yard work often involves the added stressor of weather. Hot weather, in particular, makes you sweat and raises your heart rate quickly.

“Outside work like weeding.”

“Cutting grass.”

“Weed eating.”

Every chore is hard

For many in the community, every chore is just as difficult as the next. Chores are exercise, and anyone with heart failure is going to experience discomfort during exercise. No one wants to have shortness of breath or feel their heartbeat race when trying to just take care of chores. It is hard.

Some of you shared that you have found outside help. Or, if you cannot afford help, you have found systems to get it done. Maybe the solution is doing 1 chore a day or tackling chores on the weekends. Or, perhaps the compromise is washing your sheets and floors less often if it means more time resting and looking after your health.

“Everything. It all just takes longer, and I have to take breaks more often to catch my breath and regain my energy and strength, then I can continue the chores.”

“After working all day, everything is difficult. Usually, I do all the chores on Saturday and Sunday. But slower.”

“Laundry is the hardest for me because it is on the second floor, and I have to go up and down all day.”

“Everything. I get fatigued quickly. I do 1 chore a day.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences for this story. We appreciate everyone in the community for being a part of stories like these.

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