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Heart failure usually gets worse over time. But there are many things you can do to feel better, stay healthy longer, and avoid the hospital.
Self-care means managing your health by doing certain things every day, like weighing yourself. It's about knowing which symptoms to watch for so you can avoid getting worse. When you practice good self-care, you know when it's time to call your doctor and when your heart failure has turned into an emergency. The lists below can help.
Top five self-care tips for every day
Try to become familiar with signs that mean your heart failure is getting worse. If you need help, talk with your doctor about making a personal plan.
Here are some things to watch for as you practice your daily self-care. Call your doctor if:
Be sure to make and go to all of your follow-up appointments. And it's always a good idea to call your doctor anytime you have a sudden change in symptoms.
Sometimes the symptoms get worse very quickly. This is called sudden heart failure. It causes fluid to build up in your lungs.
Sudden heart failure is an emergency. If you have any of these symptoms, you need care right away. Call 911 if:
There are other things you can do to take care of your body and your heart. These things will help you feel better. And they will also reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If your doctor has not set you up with a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program, talk to him or her about whether that is right for you. Cardiac rehab includes exercise, help with diet and lifestyle changes, and emotional support.
Also let your doctor know if:
Other Works Consulted
Riegel B, et al. (2009). State of the science. Promoting self-care in patients with heart failure. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 120(12): 1141–1163.
Current as of:
March 28, 2014
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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