Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Managing Heart Failure

People diagnosed with heart failure (HF) usually have medications to increase how much their hearts can pump.  But as with most conditions, many approaches are needed to best manage heart failure.

A daily weight is essential because it is an early indicator of fluid retention from HF.  The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning, after urinating but before breakfast.  A weight gain of around 3 pounds in a day should be reported to the doctor since it indicates fluid may be backing up in various organs.

Generally people with HF are on salt restricted diets.  Salt contributes to water retention, which makes the heart work harder and causes shortness of breath and swelling in the ankles and legs.  Those with severe heart failure may have fluid restrictions.

Mild exercise can improve circulation, as long as it does not overly tax the person.

When we feel anxious or upset, our hearts beat faster and we breathe more heavily.  This can make HF worse.  Reducing stress helps manage HF.

Lying flat may cause shortness of breath. To improve sleep, it may be helpful to raise the head of the bed 45 degrees, or even sleep in a recliner.   And if the person uses oxygen, be sure the tubing is correctly in place and the nasal prongs are in the nostrils.