Management and Treatment of Heart Failure
Knowing your body and the signs that show your heart failure is getting worse will help you stay healthier and out of the hospital. At home, watch for changes in your heart rate, pulse, blood pressure and weight.
Weight gain, especially over a day or two, can be a sign that your body is holding onto extra fluid and your heart failure is getting worse. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if your weight goes up or you develop more symptoms.
Limit how much salt you eat. Your doctor may also ask you to limit how much fluid you drink during the day.
Other important changes to make in your lifestyle:
- Ask your doctor how much alcohol you may drink.
- Don't smoke.
- Stay active. Walk or ride a stationary bicycle. Your doctor can provide a safe and effective exercise plan for you. Do not exercise on days when your weight has gone up from fluid or you are not feeling well.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Lower your cholesterol by changing your lifestyle.
- Get enough rest, including after exercise, eating, or other activities. This allows your heart to rest, too.
Your doctor will ask you to take medicines to treat your heart failure. Medicines treat the symptoms, prevent your heart failure from getting worse and help you live longer. It is very important that you take your medicine as your doctor directed.
These medicines may:
- Help the heart muscle pump better
- Keep your blood from clotting
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Open up blood vessels or slow your heart rate so your heart doesn't have to work as hard
- Reduce damage to the heart
- Reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythms
- Replace potassium
- Rid your body of excess fluid and salt (sodium)
It is very important that you take your medicine as your doctor directed. Do not take any other drugs or herbal supplement/vitamins without first asking your doctor about them. Drugs that may make your heart failure worse include:
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Drugs such as Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra) and Tadalafil (Cialis)
Call your health care provider right away if you develop:
- Increased cough or phlegm
- Sudden weight gain or swelling
- Other new or unexplained symptoms
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you experience:
- Fast and irregular heartbeat (especially if you also have other symptoms)
- Severe crushing chest pain
If you have questions about heart failure or trouble getting or taking your medications, please contact your doctor or the Sharp Community Medical Group Disease Management Team at 858-499-3040.
Last Physician Review - January 13, 2015