Adopting Healthy Habits to Manage Heart Failure
- Following recommendations on diet, exercise, and other healthy habits can help alleviate symptoms of heart failure and even slow the disease’s progression.
- Healthy staples, like getting moderate exercise, eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol, and not smoking, can go a long way.
- When it comes to exercise, it’s important to discuss which workouts are appropriate and avoid anything that will put additional strain on the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, following recommendations about diet, exercise, and other habits can help alleviate heart failure symptoms, slow your disease’s progression, and improve your everyday life. In fact, people with mild to moderate heart failure often can lead nearly normal lives as a result. Making some of these lifestyle changes can be easier said than done. But working these changes into your daily routine can make a real difference in your quality of life.Read More
- Staying moderately active
- Eating a balanced diet
- Avoiding excessive alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking
- Managing stress
Stay Active or Become Physically ActiveAccording to Dr. Philip J. Weintraub, a cardiologist affiliated to NYU, you want to exercise regularly, but it is better to avoid isometrics weightlifting. Remember to ask your doctor what activities are safe for you. Your doctor will let you know if activities such as walking or biking on most days of the week can help reduce your symptoms. But do not exercise if your symptoms are bothering you a lot.
Lose Weight“You want to keep your weight at a healthy weight. You don’t want to put more strain on an overstrained system by allowing obesity to settle in.” –Dr Weintratraub tells SurvivorNet.
If you are overweight, your heart has to work extra hard to keep up with your body’s needs. So, it’s important to lose those extra pounds you may have.
Eating a Heart-healthy Diet
According to the American Heart Association you should eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils. Also, limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Follow A Low-Sodium Diet
Don’t add salt at the table or when you cook and avoid foods that come in boxes and cans. Dr. Dwivedi stresses the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle when dealing with heart failure. “Your lifestyle goes a long way in dictating your life outcomes,” she says. “If you do have congestive heart failure, the underlying cornerstone of dietary changes is limiting sodium in your diet. Wherever sodium goes, water goes, the more sodium you eat, the more water your body retains and the harder it is for your heart to function with each beat. Additionally, sodium also raises your blood pressure increasing the workload on the heart.”
Take Your Medication as Instructed
You must take your medicines every day as directed, even if you feel well. They can reduce the chances that you will need to go to the hospital, have a heart attack, or die. They can also reduce or get rid of your symptoms. That’s why they are so important.
According to Dr Dwivedi, some medications like ACE inhibitors and ARBs have been shown to prolong life, decrease hospitalizations, improve the heart function and improve the quality of life in patients with heart failure.
Smoking worsens heart failure and increases the chance that you will have a heart attack or die.
If you already have heart failure, alcohol is not safe for your heart or good for your health.
“Heart failure must be looked at as a lifestyle-changer in the sense that you don’t want to invite other agents that might be toxic to the heart muscle. You do not want to use illicit drugs, especially cocaine. You don’t want to use alcohol because alcohol itself could act as a depressant.” – Dr Weintraub told SurvivorNet.
Take Notice of Sudden Changes In Your Weight
Call your doctor if you gain weight suddenly. When you have heart failure, sudden weight gain is a sign that your body could be holding on to too much fluid.