Heart Failure: Watching Your Fluids
What is an Actionset?
Too much fluid in your body can make it harder for your already-weakened heart to pump. Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic to help get rid of excess fluid. He or she may also suggest that you limit liquids so that your body can get rid of the extra water and sodium.
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Fluid usually is not restricted in heart failure unless you have advanced or severe heart failure. Usually, restricting sodium intake alone is enough to help your body get rid of extra fluids.
But if your doctor recommends that you limit the amount of fluids you drink and eat (fluid intake), you will need to keep track of all beverages and any foods that contain a lot of liquid. Your doctor will tell you how much fluid you can have in a day.
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Fluid intake usually is not restricted in heart failure unless your doctor gives you a specific fluid limit.
Too much fluid in your body can make it harder for your already-weakened heart to pump and can make the symptoms of heart failure worse. Things that affect the amount of fluid in your body include:
Test Your Knowledge
It is important to follow your fluid recommendations in heart failure:
So that you can eat more salt.
Because it can help maintain a normal sodium balance.
So that you don't have to keep track of the sodium in your diet.
So that you can quit taking your medicines.
Your doctor will tell you how much fluid you should be taking in every day. Recommendations may range from about 1500 mL (1.6 qt) to 2000 mL (2 qt), or about 48 fl oz (1420 mL) to 64 fl oz (1893 mL) a day. Here are the amounts of fluid in some common equivalent household measures:
It is important to know how much fluid your regular drinking glasses hold. You can find out by filling your drinking glass with water and then measuring the amount in a measuring cup. After you know this, you won't have to measure every time.
Besides water, milk, juices, and other beverages, some foods contain a lot of fluid. Any foods that will melt (such as ice cream, gelatin, or flavored ice treats) or foods that have a lot of liquid (such as soup) should also be measured and counted as part of your fluid intake.
How to keep track of your fluid intake
One method for keeping track of your fluid intake is to have an empty container that holds the amount of fluid you are allowed for the day. As you drink fluids, put an equal amount of water into the container until you reach your fluid limit. When the container is full, you have reached your fluid limit and should stop drinking.
Another method for keeping track of your fluid intake is to allow yourself 8 fl oz (1 cup) of fluid at each meal [3 x 8 fl oz = 24 fl oz, or 3 cup]. You can then fill a container with water to keep in your refrigerator that contains the balance of your fluid allowance. For example, if you are allowed 48 fl oz (6 cup) of fluid a day, you could have 24 fl oz (3 cup) divided into three meals and then another 24 fl oz (3 cup) in the refrigerator to drink during the day. If you drink other beverages besides water (such as coffee, juice, or soft drinks), then you would need to pour out an equal amount of water from your container in the refrigerator.
Test Your Knowledge
To keep track of your fluid intake, you should:
Estimate how much you drink during the day.
Keep track of only the water you drink.
Measure all beverages and all foods that have a lot of fluid in them.
Drink only at meals.
Which is equal to 1 fluid quart?
8 fluid ounces
About 15 milliliters, or 1/2 fluid ounce
About 1 liter, or 32 fluid ounces
About 125 milliliters, or 4 fluid ounces
Talk with your health professional (cardiologist, family doctor, dietitian, or nurse)
If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your health professional. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have questions.
If you would like more information on fluid intake in heart failure, the following resource is available:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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