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You have been diagnosed with heart failure (also called congestive heart failure, or CHF). The term “heart failure” sounds scary. But it doesn't mean that your heart will suddenly stop or that you are near death. It means the heart is not doing its job as well as it should. Heart failure happens when your heart muscle cannot keep up with your body’s need for blood flow. Symptoms of heart failure can be controlled by changes in your lifestyle and by following your doctor’s advice.
Work hard to remove the salt from your diet.
Limit canned, dried, packaged, and fast foods.
Don’t add salt to your food at the table.
Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.
Ask your doctor about an exercise program. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking or gardening. Don’t be discouraged if your progress is slow at first.
Break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.
Weigh yourself every day. Do this at the same time of day and in the same kind of clothes. See below for instructions on when to call your doctor about weight gain.
Rest as needed.
Recognize that your health and even survival depend on your following medical recommendations.
Avoid exposure to temperature extremes, such as hot tubs and saunas.
Take your medications exactly as prescribed. Don’t skip doses. If you miss a dose of your medication, take it as soon as you remember—unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, just wait and take your next dose at the normal time. Don’t take a double dose.
Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff. Keep appointments for checkups and lab tests that are needed to check your medications and condition.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following signs of worsening heart failure:
Sudden weight gain (3 or more pounds in one day or 5 or more pounds in one week)
Trouble breathing not related to being active
New or increased swelling of your legs or ankles
Swelling or pain in your abdomen
Breathing trouble at night (waking up short of breath, needing more pillows to breathe)
Frequent coughing that doesn’t go away
Feeling much more tired than usual