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Living with Heart Failure

Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas

Heart failure is a progressive and chronic disease

But with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, many patients will experience a full and rewarding life

Talk with a healthcare provider here in Dallas about possible treatment options and suggestions for managing heart failure.

As with any health improvement or recovery program, the outcome greatly depends on what the patient regularly does.

An older man and woman hug each other and smile.

Managing heart failure in Dallas

Several things can make a difference in the overall health of a patient with heart failure.

  • Be informed
  • Understand Prescriptions and Treatment Plan
  • Manage Fluid Intake
  • Reduce Sodium in Diet
  • Record Weight Daily
  • Speak Up
  • Stay Active and Exercise
  • Reach Out for Support

Be informed

Develop a good understanding of your heart condition, and be certain you know exactly what you need to do to take proper care of yourself at home. Ask your heart doctor and the other members of your healthcare team specific questions about your heart disease.

Understand Prescriptions and Treatment Plan

Know the type, amount and frequency of your heart medication. Do not stop or change a medication unless you have consulted with your physician and are directed to do so. Stop using tobacco if you use it, and reduce any alcohol consumption to the least amount.

Manage Fluid Intake

Fluids are necessary to keep the body functioning properly. However, in heart failure, extra fluid builds up in the body, making the heart work harder.

Restricting fluid intake can help limit fluid build-up. Fluid intake may be limited to 1.5 to 2 liters (1,500 to 2,000 ml), which equals six to eight cups per day. Count all fluids consumed—including water, coffee, tea, juice, milk, soft drinks, ice cubes and soup. Also include the fluids in foods that become liquid at room temperature, such as Jell-O, sherbet, ice pops and ice cream.

If limited to 2,000 ml or 2 liters, use a 2-liter container to help measure fluid consumption. Before drinking anything, remember to measure and pour the same amount of fluid into the container. This will help track how much fluid intake is left for the day. Be sure to use the fluid allowance evenly throughout the day and save enough to take necessary medications later in the day. Patients with a dry mouth can:

  • Suck on hard, sugar-free candy, a lemon wedge, frozen orange sections, frozen grapes or chew gum
  • Frequently brushing teeth can help moisten the mouth
  • Prepare a measured amount of ice chips and flavor with lemon or lime juice. This still counts as fluid, but ice melts to about half its original amount so you will be more refreshed than drinking the same amount of a beverage (example: 1 cup ice = ½ cup fluid)

Reduce Sodium in Diet

Sodium restriction in your diet is another important lifestyle change for managing heart failure and its symptoms. The recommended amount of sodium for heart failure patients is 2,000 milligrams daily. Heart failure patients should avoid adding table salt or sea salt to food or cooking. One teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 milligrams of sodium—more than the daily recommended amount. Try fresh or dried herbs and spices as a substitute to season food.

Record Weight Daily

Heart failure patients should keep track of their weight. A weight gain of as little as two to three pounds could signal a patient's medications need to be adjusted or cause to call the physician's office. It is best to record your weight at the same time every day and in the same state of dress or undress. Notify your healthcare professional if your weight increases by more than two pounds in 24 hours or if it increases by three to four pounds in two days.

Speak Up

Follow your healthcare provider's orders and speak up if you have any questions or changes in your condition. If you experience discomfort or an unusual symptom, contact your physician. Keep your scheduled appointments with your doctor. Your doctor wants to help you do as well as possible but needs to be informed of how you are doing to provide quality care. Do not hesitate to call.

Stay Active and Exercise

If you are able to—and only on the advice of your healthcare provider—you should plan to exercise. If so, it's important to have set times during the day to exercise. Research shows exercise may decrease symptoms and improve your quality of life. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for cardiac rehabilitation.

Reach Out for Support

Maintaining your friendships and interests, as well as developing new ones, is important. Changes in your lifestyle habits can lead to other positive changes in your health.

Baylor Heart Center App

Our refreshed app gives you even more ways to care for your heart on your iPhone, iPad and smartwatch

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