What to Expect

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE HEART FAILURE?

People with Heart Failure often have the following symptoms:

 

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing with activity
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Problems with breathing when lying down
  • Waking up at night coughing or with feelings of suffocation
  • Swollen ankles, legs, belly and/or feet
  • Increased heart rate or heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain

SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT ANY SYMPTOMS?

Just because symptoms are common does not mean you should ignore them! Call your primary healthcare provider for any of the following:

 

  • Increased ankle swelling
  • Problems breathing at night or needing more pillows under your head to sleep.
  • Weight gain or loss of 2-3 pounds overnight or 5 pounds in 7 days
  • A change in your ability to sleep
  • An increase in coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Increasing fatigue and/or confusion
  • Decreasing ability to be active
  • Nausea and/or loss of appetite

 

CALL 911 if you have any of the following:

  • Prolonged chest pain that does not respond to nitroglycerin
  • Extreme shortness of breath or trouble breathing unrelieved by rest
  • Feel like you might pass out or faint
  • Irregular, rapid or fluttering pulse in your chest (palpitations)

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

The treatment of heart failure typically involves several steps. The steps are listed here and are explained in more detail in our HF Program.

  • Weigh yourself daily
  • Take your medications exactly as directed
  • Follow a low sodium diet
  • Avoid drinking excess fluids
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a normal body weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Know the warning signs of heart failure
  • Stop smoking
  • Keep follow-up appointments
  • Make this plan a permanent part of your life
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