Comorbidities add a whole new layer of complications when it comes to managing heart failure. Not only do you have to manage your heart, but you also have to balance other things like diabetes, renal failure, high blood pressure, and other conditions. It feels like a never-ending cycle of something that is always wrong. The hardest part is deciding which one takes priority if any, and which one is the most important to control.
Control and acceptance
There is not any single comorbidity that is more important to control than another. You need to find a balance to each, and sometimes accept that medication will be needed for at least one or more of your conditions. I have multiple conditions that need managing with medication. There is no one condition that is more important to control than the other. However, with diabetes, I don’t really see the problems with it, so it’s easy to ignore it for my heart. I have to make conscious choices to make sure I don’t do this.
Exercise and diet
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage multiple comorbidities. There aren’t many conditions for which exercise is frowned upon. Talk to all your different specialty doctors to find out what exercise they recommend, and whichever one gives you the most restrictions or the easiest exercise, follow that one. For most people, walking 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is a great start.
Diet can be used to manage many comorbidities as well. Yes, different conditions call for different diets, but you can make healthy choices that benefit each condition. If you have issues with diet, it is best to get set up with a nutritionist or dietician who can help you will meal choices. No one wants to add more doctors or pay more co-pays, but when it comes down to living a quality life, it is important to get your diet right for all conditions, not just one.
The most hated part of any disease or condition is all the medications. However, medications are important to balance out what you are missing in your daily life. We would all love to be off medications, but you may need more medications for one condition to balance out bettering another. It’s not a bad thing to be on medications. Of course, it's not ideal, but if they are helping, it’s a good thing.
If there is a medication you want to eliminate, talk to your doctor about how to get off the medications. Just be prepared for possibly adding a medication for another condition based on the changes they recommend. Make sure the change is ok for your other conditions as well and not the one you are focusing on at the time.
The balancing act
As you can see, the balancing act can be quite daunting. It is a daily struggle to make so many right choices, you never feel like you make a good overall choice. There may be no perfect choice, and that’s ok. As long as you are working with your doctors and make healthy decisions, you have done your part. It’s ok to be on medication and its ok to never come off medication. I’m with you in hating all the medications I have to take, but I am happy it is available and it is keeping me healthy and alive.
What type of heart failure have you been diagnosed with?