Community Shares: Realistic Tips for Living with Heart Failure
Last updated: May 2021
When you are newly diagnosed with heart failure, the many life changes can feel overwhelming. Implementing all the recommendations for staying healthy can feel impossible and unrealistic. Fortunately, this community has people who have been there!
To learn more about the advice community members would offer to others, we turned to followers of our Facebook page. We asked you to share: “What are realistic tips for living with heart failure?”
From the newly diagnosed to the years-long warrior, the comments are affirming for the entire community. Please keep in mind that you should always talk to your doctor before making any changes. They can help you figure out what steps are right for you as you adjust to this lifestyle.
Listen to your body
Listening to and trusting the wisdom in your body is a learning process. It often feels unnatural to slow down instead of pushing through. Many Facebook responses highlight the importance of slowing down and resting. It is okay to leave a task half-finished or not to check every item off the to-do list. Resting when your body is tired is doing important work.
“Rest when your body says rest. That is so darn hard!”
“Celebrate your small accomplishments. Some days you may only have enough energy to take a shower, and that’s okay. Try not to be hard on yourself.”
“Just a reminder: do not attempt to rearrange the furniture without a partner!”
Change your diet
We heard many comments about the importance of making changes to your diet for living with heart failure. Dietary changes often mean eliminating foods high in fat, reducing sodium and sugar, and eating lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is okay to gradually make changes. A few changes at a time keeps the process manageable. Treating yourself now and then will not derail the overall value of eating a heart-healthy diet.1
“Diet adjustments are key.”
“Lay off the salt.”
Take your meds
A heart failure diagnosis often comes with the addition of several prescription drugs and supplements. Many of you shared the importance of sticking to your treatment plan. Take your drugs exactly as prescribed to keep your heart as healthy as possible. Communicating with your doctor and keeping all appointments also helps you better manage your symptoms.2
“Be very compliant taking your medications. If something seems wrong, see your healthcare team. Don’t wait!”
“Take medicine on time.”
“Stay on top of all your medications and doctor appointments.”
Live your life
Living fully is vital to life. A heart failure diagnosis does not mean the end of fun and enjoyment. Certain activities may need modification. Going for as long or doing as much at one time may not be feasible anymore. Find what is possible and enjoy yourself! Rediscover or cultivate new hobbies and passions. Do not opt-out of living just because heart failure is one part of your life.
“Enjoy life! Do everything you thought you couldn’t do!”
“Live life to the fullest you can, just don’t overdo it.”
“Enjoy your life doing what you like.”
We appreciate the collective wisdom shared by all the responses to the Facebook prompt! Thank you for sharing your insights into what is realistic for people living with heart failure.
Have you ever avoided going to the doctor out of fear?