6 More Tips for Living With Heart Failure
Last updated: August 2020
In my previous article I explored some common helpful tips for living with heart failure and I wanted to continue with some more. These are tips that I have found to be valuable and I hope you do too!
Keep track of your weight
When living with heart failure, keeping track of your weight is essential. Sudden weight gain can be a symptom that you are retaining fluid/water and can make your heart failure and its symptoms much worse. If you find that you are gaining weight be sure to tell your doctor so they can advise as to what actions to take.
Watch how much you drink
Depending on your type and severity of heart failure, your doctor might recommend that you limit the amount of fluid you drink. This includes more than just your typical drinks, it also includes things like soup, ice cream, jello, and even some hard candy. Drinking too much can cause an increase in fluid buildup in the body which in turn can make heart failure worse.
This is a pretty big one. Smoking affects every organ in the body and can cause a build-up of plaque within the arteries. It is also one of the most major risk factors for heart disease. Avoid second-hand smoke whenever possible as it can lead to heart disease as well. Quitting smoking is extremely difficult but it is worth your life to stop. Talk to your doctor about methods that they recommend to help with smoking cessation.
Consider cardiac rehab
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program. You will be medically evaluated by a team of health care providers. They will show you certain exercises that are appropriate for you specifically and make sure they are safe and effective for you to do. These exercises are usually low impact movements and may include walking, jogging, cycling, and rowing.
Strengthening exercises are often also done during the sessions with weights and other resistance type movements with bands. You will also be given information and counseling on how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle and what changes may need to be made in order to achieve it. In cardiac rehab, they will show you ways to reduce your stress levels as increased stress can put your heart at a higher risk.1
Dress the part
I’m not talking about dressing to the nines here - unless you want to! Dress in layers. Wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing. Support/compression stockings can be purchased at most drug stores and can help alleviate leg and ankle swelling that might occur throughout the day when you are on your feet. Sometimes increasing the level of compression is needed and in that case, your doctor will help guide you to the best level for you.
Having friends who are also living with heart failure can make a world of difference! Having someone who just gets it and can relate to exactly what you are feeling and going through can make things easier. I have a few friends who I know I can text or call anytime day or night to vent or share the highs and lows with. I met most of my heart friends online in heart communities as well as some local American Heart Association events and they have become lifelong buddies!
What are some tips that you have implemented in your life or have heard are helpful when living with heart failure? Let us know in the comments below!
Have you ever avoided going to the doctor out of fear?