Living With Heart Failure
Heart failure can't be cured. You will likely have
to take medicine and follow a treatment plan for the rest of your life.
Despite treatment, symptoms may get worse over time.
You may not be able to do many of the things that you did before you had heart
failure. However, if you take all the steps your doctor recommends, you can
stay healthier longer.
Researchers also may find new treatments that can
help you in the future.
Follow Your Treatment Plan
Treatment can relieve your symptoms and make daily
activities easier. It also can reduce the chance that you'll have to go to the
hospital. For these reasons, it's vital that you follow your treatment plan.
- Take all of your medicines as your doctor
prescribes. If you have side effects from a medicine, tell your doctor. You
should never stop taking medicine without asking your doctor first.
- Make all of the lifestyle changes that your
- Get advice from your doctor about how active you
can/should be. This includes advice on daily activities, work, leisure time,
sex, and exercise. Your level of activity will depend on the stage of your
heart failure (how severe it is). Studies show that aerobic exercise improves
heart function; other types of exercise don't.
- Keep all of your medical appointments, including
visits to the doctor and appointments to get tests and lab work. Your doctor
needs the results of these tests to adjust your medicine doses and help you
avoid any harmful side effects.
Take Steps To Prevent Heart Failure From Getting
Certain factors can cause your heart failure to
worsen. These include:
- Forgetting to take your medicines
- Not following your diet (such as eating salty
- Drinking alcohol
These factors can lead to a hospital stay. If you
have trouble following your diet, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help
arrange for a dietitian to work with you. Avoid drinking alcohol.
People with heart failure often have other serious
conditions that require ongoing treatment. If you do, you're likely taking
medicines for them as well as for heart failure. Taking more than one medicine
raises the risk of side effects and other problems. Make sure your pharmacist
has a complete list of all of the medicines and over-the-counter products that
Tell your doctor right away about any problems with
your medicines. Also, talk with your doctor before taking any new medicine
another doctor prescribes or any new over-the-counter medicines or herbal
Try to avoid respiratory infections like the flu and
pneumonia. Ask your doctor or nurse about getting flu and pneumonia vaccines.
Coping with heart failure and changing your life to
decrease symptoms can be hard. You may feel depressed. If so, talk to your
doctor. He or she may recommend treatment for depression. This treatment can
improve your outlook and help you enjoy life more.
Be ready to meet your health needs. Know:
- When to seek help. Talk to your doctor about when
to make an office visit or when to get urgent help.
- Phone numbers for your doctor and hospital.
- Directions to the doctor's office or hospital and
people who can take you there.
- A list of medicines you're taking.