Purpose: Better understand heart failure and the complications that can arise without proper management, plus tips for staying healthy day-to-day.
Time to read: 8 minutes
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Heart failure (HF) is a medical condition where the heart does not pump blood like it should. Over time, the heart muscle is less able to contract (or pump) and cannot keep up with the body’s demand. Because of this, blood returns to the heart faster than it is being pumped out. This pumping problem means the body’s organs may not be getting enough oxygen.
There are many ways the body might respond to HF including:
The following symptoms may be associated with heart failure and are often due to fluid build-up:
Your treatment routine is determined by your doctor or heart specialist. Tests and treatments may vary depending on the symptoms you are experiencing and can include: medical testing, medication management, and lifestyle management.
Medical Testing: Blood work, x-rays, and EKG tests are some of the tests that your physician may complete. Common tests and procedures are listed and reviewed here.
Medication: There are many types of medications that your doctor may prescribe to manage your disease. The American Heart Association is a good resource to review the classes of medications and what they do.
Lifestyle treatments: Based on your symptoms, your doctor may want you to follow a special diet or limit fluids. Working with your doctor, your Brook Health coach, and a Registered Dietitian can help you manage these.
A sudden increase in your weight may indicate your condition is getting worse. A daily increase of ~3 pounds or a weekly increase of ~6 pounds is something that needs to be looked into by your doctor. It is important to weigh yourself daily. Additional recommendations for the most up-to-date and accurate weight:
Why should I keep track of my weight or blood oxygen?
It’s important to regularly monitor your weight and blood oxygen when you have heart failure to notice when either one changes quickly. If you notice a sudden change in your weight or if your blood oxygen level starts trending down, your doctor may need to make some adjustments to your treatment plan.
I don’t know where to start or what changes to make?
Dealing with a chronic disease like heart failure can be overwhelming. Fortunately you are in the right place! It is always best to set realistic goals and choose lifestyle changes that are doable for you right now. Your Brook coach can support you by answering your questions and help you get started. Your doctor is also a great resource for this as well. The key is to start somewhere, you can adjust as you go along.
I feel like I’m constantly short of breath. What should I do?
If you’re feeling short of breath when not exercising, it could be caused by fluid accumulating in your lungs. If this continues to get worse, it could indicate progression of your condition. Contact your doctor as they may need to make some adjustments to your treatment plan.
If you’re feeling short of breath when trying to sleep, it may be helpful to sleep in a slightly more upright position.
as of September 2023. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Masters degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University.
Always be sure to reach out to your healthcare team when making changes to your diet or lifestyle. There are certain conditions and medications that need to be considered.