Living with Heart Failure
To manage your heart failure, you need to:
Follow your zones handout
Your zones handout will provide you with guidelines what to do each day to manage your heart failure.
Weigh yourself every day
- A change in your weight can be a sign that your heart failure is not controlled as well as it needs to be.
- Weigh yourself every day. Know your dry weight. Dry weight is the weight of your body without extra fluid that builds up in your body because of heart failure. Keep a record of your daily weight on a calendar or diary.
- Call your heart failure doctor or nurse if, at any time, you weigh four pounds or more than your dry weight or four pounds or less than your dry weight.
- At each appointment, ask what your current dry weight is. Write down your new dry weight so that you can compare your daily weight to your most recent dry weight.
Take your medications
- Take all of your medications every day. Your heart failure medication plan is designed to keep your heart as healthy and strong as possible. Following the plan will help you feel better and live longer.
Heart failure and sodium connection.
Heart failure and exercise.
Eat a heart healthy low-salt (sodium) diet
- Many patients with heart failure are told to watch their sodium,
or eat a low salt diet.
- Ask your doctor or nurse if you have a sodium limit.
- All patients with heart disease or at risk for heart disease should follow a heart healthy diet.
Exercise on most days
- Exercise is an important part of your treatment plan.
- Check with your doctor or nurse before you start an exercise program. Gradually work up to walking or other aerobic types of exercise for about 30 -45 minutes of total exercise (balanced with periods of rest) five days per week.
- Remember, exercise can cause shortness of breath, sweating and rapid heart rate. These are NORMAL effects and do not mean that your heart failure is getting worse.
- If you become short of breath when exercising, stop and take a break. You can resume once your breathing has returned to normal.
- Ask your doctor if cardiac rehabilitation would be good for you.
Check for Symptoms
Call your doctor for new or worsening heart failure signs and symptoms. Do not wait until your symptoms are severe and that you need emergency treatment. Refer to the zones information and call your doctor if you have:
- Unexplained change in weight (see above)
- Swelling in your legs or stomach
- Shortness of breath that is new, increased or occurs more often or at rest
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion
- Chest discomfort during activity that is relieved by rest
- Changes in heart beat: fast heart rate (more than 120 beats per minute at rest); or a new, more frequent or more irregular heartbeat
- Poor appetite, nausea or vomiting
- Respiratory infection; coughing during the night
See your doctor for regular follow up visits
- Keep all scheduled appointments with your doctor or nurse. Frequent contact with your doctor or nurse will increase your chances of staying on track with your treatment plan.
- Learn more about follow up with your doctor.
YOU can take an active role in treating your heart failure.
In your binder and on our website, there are tips for return to work, conserving energy and taking care of your emotional health.
Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)
Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.
Schedule an Appointment
This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace
the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider.
Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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