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Heart Failure Management

When you make a few simple lifestyle changes, you can minimize heart failure symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Heart Failure | El Camino Hospital

You can lead a full, healthy life when you incorporate heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle. And, the more you know about heart failure, the better you can manage it. Your heart care team can provide you with information, education and resources to help you improve your health and well-being — including our Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.

Healthy Habits to Control Heart Failure

When you adopt these behaviors, you’ll improve heart failure symptoms and your health overall:

  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Take your medicines and keep all your medical appointments. Bring a list of your current medications (or bring the bottles) to your medical appointments. Ask your doctor about how active you should be. This includes daily activities, work, leisure time, sex and exercise. Your ideal level of activity will depend on the severity of your condition.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your blood vessels, reduces the oxygen in your blood, and puts strain on your heart. Need help to quit smoking? We can help.
  • Eat a heart-healthy, low-sodium diet. A diet high in salt causes fluid to build up in the body, which makes your heart work harder. Eat fresh, unprocessed foods and limit salt in your diet. We offer free consultations with a dietitian to help with diet planning.
  • Manage your fluid intake. When you have heart failure, your heart doesn’t pump out enough blood, which causes fluids to build up in your body. Ask your doctor how much fluid you should have each day. Also, it’s wise to avoid alcohol because it can interact with medicines, weaken your heart muscle, and increase irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your heart care team can offer support and recommendations for losing weight, including classes and programs.
  • Weigh yourself daily. Weigh yourself in the morning after you empty your bladder, before breakfast. Keep of log of your daily weight and call your doctor if you gain more than 2 pounds in a day or more than 5 pounds in a week. A sudden weight gain could mean you’re retaining fluid and your treatment plan needs to change.
  • Control your blood pressure. When you keep your blood pressure under control, you can improve your heart health, minimize heart failure symptoms, and prevent complications.
  • Manage stress. Stress can have a negative impact on your health, so it’s important to learn how to manage it. We offer stress management programs to help.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you:

  • Gain more than 2 pounds in a day or more than 5 pounds in a week.
  • Notice more shortness of breath than usual.
  • Feel unusually tired and have no energy.
  • Have swelling in your feet, ankles, legs or stomach.
  • Feel dizzy. Have a dry, hacking cough.
  • Feel uneasy and have a sense that something’s not right.
  • Have trouble breathing while lying down, so you sleep with more pillows or sleep sitting up.

Emergency Care

Call 911 immediately if:

  • You’re struggling to breathe or you’re short of breath, even while you’re sitting still.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You’re confused or you can’t think clearly.

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