Congestive Heart Failure (cont.)
Congestive Heart Failure Self-Care at Home
Congestive Heart Failure Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Congestive heart failure is a serious medical condition that requires professional medical help, but even some simple treatments at home may help reduce congestive heart failure symptoms.
- Once diagnosed and under the care of a qualified medical professional, patients can and should do several things at home to increase their comfort and reduce the chance of the condition getting worse.
- In fact, the more active role patients take in managing heart failure, the more likely they are to do well.
- Making the lifestyle changes described here will make a real difference. Not only will patients feel better, but they will increase their chances of a longer, healthier life.
Treat swelling with the following measures:
- Elevate the feet and legs if they are swollen.
- Eat a reduced-salt diet.
- Weigh in every morning before breakfast and record it in a diary that can be shown to a health care provider.
Avoid the following:
- Not taking prescribed medications
- Smoking (in all forms)
- Alcohol (up to one drink per day is usually fine, unless prone to excessive intake/alcoholism)
- Excessive emotional stress and/or depression (seek professional help)
- High altitude (breathing is more difficult because of the lower level of oxygen in the atmosphere; pressurized cabin air travel is usually fine)
- Herbal or other complementary medicine without first consulting a doctor to see if they are safe
Patients with congestive heart failure should know the following information that may apply to their disease:
- Keep walking or doing some form of aerobic exercise. Join a cardiac rehabilitation program (this program can monitor a person's exercise capacity).
- People with diabetes must control their blood sugar level every day. Patients should know their HbA1C level. It should be less than 7.0%, and preferably less than 6.5%.
- People with high blood pressure should measure it regularly, and make sure they know the value, (systolic pressure should be below 140 mm Hg in everyone and even below 130 in many individuals).
- People with elevated lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) can take medications to get the bad cholesterol (LDL) below 70 optimally (or at least below 100), good cholesterol (HDL) above 40 for men and 50 for women, and the triglycerides below 150.
Terrence X O'Brien, MD, FACC
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