Living with heart failure
As part of your treatment plan, you may have to make changes to your lifestyle. You can read about these in the section on adapting your lifestyle. However, you should also discuss this with your healthcare team as they may have specific recommendations for the changes you may need to make.
What lifestyle changes should I make now that I have been diagnosed with heart failure?
Your doctor will be able to recommend changes that you can make to your lifestyle. He/she will also be able to refer you to a dietician who will work with you to make changes to your diet, and a physiotherapist may work with you to suggest suitable physical activity or participation in a training or activity programme.
How often will I need to return to the clinic for check-ups?
This will depend on the treatment plan your doctor recommends for you. He/she may also refer you to a specialist nurse, dietician, physical therapist, support group etc., for regular appointments.
How much fluid should I be drinking each day?
It’s important to be sensible about the amount of fluid you drink to minimise water and salt retention that often occurs with heart failure. Your dietician or nurse may recommend how much fluid and salt you should consume and your doctor may want to discuss your diuretic treatment and explain how you can adjust your treatment if your symptoms get worse. Remember fluid you consume comes in different forms including many foods we eat like soup and stews.
What sort of exercise should I do and how much should I be doing?
Remaining as active as possible is an important part of your lifestyle management; however, you should make sure you are not doing too much too quickly and take your time. You should try to avoid becoming very short of breath during any activity. Your doctor will be able to advise you on which activities are good to start with and which to avoid. He/she may also be able to put you in contact with a local cardiac rehabilitation centre with regards to low-intensity training programmes you could participate in.
Is there a blood pressure monitor that you would recommend?
There are several blood pressure monitors available, but not all of them have been tested for accuracy. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to give you advice on which monitors have been proven to be accurate and help to check you are using the monitor correctly.
What should my blood pressure and heart rate be?
If you are monitoring your blood pressure and heart rate regularly, it’s important to know what your normal measurements should be. Heart failure medicines will usually serve to lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate. You will then be able to keep a record of your values and tell your doctor if you notice any major changes.
Can I still fly?
Air travel isn’t usually a problem for people with heart failure. However, your symptoms should be stable before you travel. If you have a device, you should mention it at security controls because it may be detected by the security alarms.
Security controls should not interfere in any way with the functioning of your device.
When should I have my next flu/pneumonia vaccination?
Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you require a flu and/or pneumonia vaccination, and how frequently.
What should I do if I think my heart failure is getting worse and I have increasing symptoms?
This is an important question to discuss with your doctor. Please see the Warning Signs section of this website. If, for example, you feel that your breathing is getting gradually worse or you notice progressive weight gain, then you should contact your doctor or nurse and ask for an appointment as soon as possible. If symptoms worsen quickly and are accompanied by shortness of breath at rest, rapid heart rate or chest pain then you need urgent attention and should contact the emergency services immediately.