Adjusting your diet: fluids

Controlling the intake of fluid may be important for some patients with heart failure.

Why is it important to control fluids?

Water and salt retention leads to an increased amount of fluid in the blood. Your heart has to work harder to push this increased amount of blood around your body. The excess fluid may be pushed into your lungs making it harder to breathe, into the abdomen making it more difficult to eat and digest food, or into your lower legs.

How can you control your fluids?

You may be prescribed tablets such as diuretics to help you get rid of any extra fluid. However, you should take care not to replace this water through drinking extra fluids. Your doctor or nurse may recommend an amount that you should be drinking every day.

If you are advised to reduce the amount of fluid you drink, here are some helpful suggestions:

Top tips for limiting the amount you drink:

  • use small cups instead of mugs
  • try to spread your daily allowance over the whole day
  • try drinking very cold or very hot fluids – it takes longer
  • if it is very hot or you have a fever or diarrhoea, you should drink an extra 100-300 ml.

Top tips for when you are thirsty:

  • suck on a ice cube
  • limit caffeinated drinks (including coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks)
  • limit alcoholic drinks
  • use lemon and glycerine mouthswab sticks
  • chew gum
  • eat frozen fruits
  • add lemon juice to your tea or mineral water.

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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