Brook Remote Care

Week 4 – Your Diagnosis

Heart failure

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



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 muscles of the heart may become thicker and expand to hold more blood. This helps to keep the blood moving, but may weaken the heart muscle and make it less able to pump efficiently.
  • The kidneys may cause the body to hold onto water and sodium (salt). This causes fluid to build up in areas of the body such as the arms, legs, feet, or lungs. These areas can then become congested, or edema (swelling) may occur. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the term used to describe the congestion that happens when the fluid builds up in various parts of our body.


  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Defective heart valves
  • Viral illness
  • Alcohol abuse or use of illicit drugs such as cocaine
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause) 


The following symptoms may be associated with heart failure and are often due to fluid build-up: 

  • Shortness of breath (may be all the time, with exertion, or when lying down) 
  • Exercise intolerance 
  • Difficulty lying flat without extra pillows 
  • Increasing fatigue 
  • Swelling in legs 
  • Rapid weight gain 
  • Abdominal bloating and distention
  • Decreased appetite


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.


  • Check your weight at the same time each day to monitor for rapid weight (fluid) gain
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Keep your doctors office notified of any changes to your health
  • Monitor and work to manage your blood pressure
  • Eat smaller meals and snacks
  • Follow any dietary restrictions given by your doctor such as a low sodium diet
  • Include potassium rich foods if instructed to do so by your doctor
  • Limit caffeine if you are instructed to do so by your doctor
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase your exercise if this has been cleared by your doctor
  • Follow any fluid restrictions given by your doctor


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:

  • Take your weight at approximately the same time of day.
  • Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder before weighing yourself.
  • Make sure you are wearing clothing that weighs about the same when weighing in.
  • Check that your scale is connected to your Brook account.


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.


  1. Review your device testing protocol from your provider by going to Profile > Monitoring Protocols
    1. If you need a nudge from the Brook app to help you remember to take your weight or blood oxygen throughout the week, go to the bottom of the Monitoring Protocols page and click the ‘click here’ text to go to the Schedules & Reminders page. 
  2. Start monitoring your weight and blood oxygen with the device you’ve received from Brook. 
  3. Chat with the Brook Care team (the Registered Nurse and Health Coaches) about your own personal weight and blood oxygen trends.
Image of Brook Health Expert Kelsea
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN

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.