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How to Live Longer with Heart Failure: 12 Best Practices

How to Live Longer with Heart Failure: 12 Best Practices

To live long with heart failure, you must follow the doctor’s orders. In general, they will most likely give you advice on your diet and lifestyle. Additionally, they might also give strict instructions for you to monitor certain indicators, like your weight, BP, and symptoms.

how to live longer with heart failure

The strategies to manage heart failure are:

Quit Smoking

Each inhalation of cigarette smoke can increase your heart rate and blood pressure temporarily, adding unnecessary workload to your heart. Additionally, it also hurts the blood vessels that carry blood to your cardiac muscles.

Monitor Your Fluid Intake

One of the strategies to manage heart failure is to track how much fluid you’re taking daily. Patients with congestive heart failure are prone to retaining excess fluid, which makes it even more difficult for the heart to pump blood effectively.

Ask your doctor if there’s a need for you to limit daily fluid intake. If you’ve been given a limit, stick to it by tracking not only your drinks, but also the liquid in your food, such as sauce, soup, and gelatin.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight will help you live longer even with heart failure.

According to doctors, being obese or overweight can decrease the heart’s pumping action. So it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best strategies to attain a healthy BMI. A good way to start is to have appropriate and regular physical activity, and of course, a transition to a healthier diet.

Also, it’s advisable to check your weight every day, preferably upon waking up after peeing and before eating breakfast. Weight monitoring is crucial because sudden weight changes could indicate that your heart failure is getting worse, or you might be retaining too much fluid in your body.

Important Facts About Congestive Heart Failure

Avoid or Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

To live longer even with heart failure, consider cutting back on caffeine and alcohol.

Depending on the progression of your heart failure, the doctor may give you advice to totally avoid or at least limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.

Too much alcohol, for instance, can weaken your heart, increase your blood pressure, and cause weight gain. Caffeine, on the other hand, might lead to problems with your heartbeat.

Ask your doctor if you’re allowed to drink alcohol and coffee, and follow the limits they advise you on.

Choose Heart-Healthy Foods

Of course, you also need to take care of your diet. As much as possible, avoid consuming foods that are high in saturated fats, sodium or salt, cholesterol, and refined sugar.

Instead, focus on the following heart-healthy foods:

  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Remember that fruits and veggies should fill up about half of your plate for each meal.

Exercise Regularly

With your condition, friends and loved ones may advise you to “take it easy”, but despite how well-meaning their suggestions are, remember that regular physical activity is one of the best strategies to manage heart failure.

Come to think of it, exercise helps a lot in maintaining healthy blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels. The general rule is to have at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day for at least 5 days a week.

Of course, you need to exercise caution. Talk to your doctor first about how much physical activity your heart can take. They will help you come up with an exercise regimen that will strengthen your body without compromising your heart’s health.

Manage Stress

Studies have shown that stress is linked to a higher risk of heart attack. For this reason, find ways to effectively manage stress and other strong emotions such as anger.

Doctors emphasize the need to take 10 to 15 minutes daily to do reflection and deep breathing exercises. Talking to your friends and family will also help.

Finally, if the stress becomes too much, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for possible counseling or therapy.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Your BP is a good indicator of how your heart is doing, so it’s best to monitor it daily, preferably at the same times each day: once in the morning before eating, and then in the evening.

If no one at home can take and record your BP reading, consider purchasing the digital devices for you to conveniently take note of your blood pressure.

Observe Your Symptoms Daily

To live longer with heart failure, be sure to keep track of your symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and swollen legs and ankles.

If you notice that a new symptom has emerged, or your previous symptoms have worsened, report it to your doctor right away.

Take Your Medications

Of course, you must take your medications as ordered by the doctor. While lifestyle and dietary changes are a big help in ensuring that your heart failure doesn’t worsen, sometimes, they are not enough.

Your medications are there to help your heart do its job by dilating your blood vessels or strengthening its pumping action.

Furthermore, some medications can help control your congestive heart failure by lowering your blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels.

Protect Yourself from Flu and Pneumonia

The respiratory conditions flu and pneumonia diminishes the body’s capacity to use oxygen. This, in turn, increases the heart’s workload. Hence, it’ll be a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting flu and pneumonia shots yearly.

How to Boost and Strengthen Your Flu Immunity

Get a Regular Check-Up

Finally, make it a point to visit your doctor’s clinic regularly. To live longer with heart failure, it’s important to immediately see when your condition is worsening – this can be achieved by showing up to regular check-ups and undergoing routine tests.

Learn more about Heart Failure here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Nov 02, 2020
Medically reviewed by Dr. John Paul Abrina, M.D.
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