Living (Well) With Congestive Heart Failure

Exercise and Manage Your Weight

Talk with your doctor about the amount of exercise you can do. Typically, it is recommended to start slow and build to 20 or 30 minutes, three to four times a week. Ensure that you get plenty of rest throughout the day. Minimize your stress level when possible.

Rapid weight gain may be a sign that you are retaining fluid, so weighing yourself daily is very important to managing CHF. Weigh yourself every morning after you use the restroom and before you eat breakfast. Keep a daily weight log and bring it with you to all of your doctor appointments.

Eat a Well-balanced Diet

It is important that you make healthy food choices and follow your diet as directed.

  • Eat a low-sodium (low-salt) diet
  • Do not add salt when cooking or at the table
  • Limit eating canned food (drain and rinse to lower salt content), prepared frozen dinners, soups, and smoke/prepared meats such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, ham, cheeses, and lunch meats
  • Limit amount of cholesterol and fat in your diet
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Read food labels

Take Your Medicine Correctly

Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor. Some heart failure medications include:

  • Diuretic—known as “water pill”, decreases fluid retention and swelling
  • ACE inhibitors or ARBs—help the heart “pump” better
  • Beta Blockers—decreases blood pressure and slows the heart down

Take your medication at the time your doctor ordered. It is helpful to use a daily event (brushing teeth or a certain meal) to remind yourself. Know the side effects of your medications and call your doctor right away if you have any.

Contact Your Physician if You Experience:

  • Weakness, fatigue, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Increased shortness of breath or cough that does not go away or wheezing at night
  • Swollen legs, ankles, or abdomen
  • Unexpected weight gain—three or more pounds in a day or five pounds in five days
  • Chest pain or fast beating heart

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-996-3627.

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