Diagnosis & managing heart failure
The news of any serious diagnosis will always be tough to take at first. It may take time to initially accept. It’s important to remember, however, that you are not alone. With the right support network, changes to your lifestyle and paying close attention to your doctor and the management plan they outline, you can still go on to live a full and happy life.
Some General Tips to Keep in Mind
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Lifestyle and advice tips for HF
Making some simple lifestyle changes and better, healthier choices is important in managing heart failure6,7. The key is to make small changes to your lifestyle and your approach to healthier eating and the exercise to ensure your heart is functioning as well as it can8.
Any changes to your diet or exercise regime should be made under the guidance of your doctor.
It is important to maintain a good level of physical activity, for your body and mind9-11. As your muscles are also affected by how blood is pumped around the body you may experience some cramping and fatigue at first. With that in mind, it’s important to build your exercise regime gradually7.
Here are some useful tips to follow:
Try to maintain a regular frequency of exercising. Scheduling exercise at the same time every day can help make it a regular part of your life. But don’t over strain yourself. This is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint. Start slow and steady and build from there7,8.
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, combined with some light strength training is usually best11.
Depending on your levels of fitness starting out, you should build up in small increments until you can comfortably work out from 30-40 minutes, but your doctor can help you define your routine9.
Things to avoid/be conscious of7:
• Any sort of high-intensity activities.
• Reduce activity when tired.
• Make sure you take adequate rest periods.
Keeping your heart working well also means paying close attention to what you’re eating. A good diet can lower cholesterol, sodium levels and reduce your weight, which takes pressure off your heart12.
Don’t try crash-dieting or fads, balance is key. Try to eat 12:
• Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
• Wholegrain bread, rice and pasta.
• A small number of dairy products.
• Protein rich foods like eggs, fish, meat and beans – in moderation.
• Very little high-fat or sugary foods.
• Sodium intake should be discussed and managed with your treating physician. Excess sodium is best avoided where possible and only taken very minimally. Sodium can raise blood pressure and have negative effects on the heart.
Alcohol should also be limited. Talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption guidelines and stick to them12.