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Fall 2010 Volume 6, Issue 2
Avoiding a Heart Failure Emergency
With a diagnosis of heart failure, taking your medicine and following your doctor’s recommendations are very important. Why? These steps will help you feel better and will keep you out of the emergency room. One trip to the emergency room for heart failure often leads to another, says a study in the journal
Circulation: Heart Failure.
While heart failure can’t be cured, you can take action to improve symptoms, slow its progress and stay healthier longer.
Check how much you weigh each day and record it. Because heart failure causes your heart to not pump blood properly, blood returning to the heart backs up. This can cause fuid to collect in your body. It can result in weight gain, along with swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen. Watch out for a sudden weight gain of 3 pounds or more in a day or two, or 5 pounds or more in a week. This is a sign of edema.
Mind Your Medicine
Never stop taking a medicine or change the dosage without frst talking with your doctor. It could lead to unplanned, yet harmful, reactions. Instead, explain how the prescription makes you feel or other concerns. He or she can change your medication if necessary.
Stick with a diet low in salt, fat and cholesterol. Eat plenty of potassium. Medications used to treat heart failure can deplete this mineral. Potassium is found in bananas, beets and green vegetables. Avoid
alcohol and follow instructions on how much fuid you should drink.
Becoming more ft through aerobic exercise can lower risk factors for heart disease and help control heart failure. Ask your doctor what kinds of physical activity are right for you.
Pay close attention to your symptoms. Stay alert to any changes. Talk with your doctor about when you should see him or her about symptom changes. Ask which symptoms mean you need emergency care.
Do you need help with a Heart Failure Action Plan? Call (800) 288-2902 to speak with a HAP’s HealthTrack Nurse Health Coach.