Many people with heart failure can lead normal active lives because they have LEARNED TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEMSELVES. They (or you) can TAKE CONTROL by understanding and carefully following the treatment plan.
Recognizing Warning Signs
It is important to monitor all your symptoms on a regular basis. This document is a quick reminder / reference of symptoms that you / family members should look out for to decide if you should go to the nearest hospital / IJN immediately.
- Severe and persistent shortness of breath / increasing shortness of breath (SOB).
- Frequently waking up at night due to SOB or needing more pillows to sleep comfortably.
- Persistent chest pain,rapid heart beat or palpitations.
- Fainting, worsening dizziness.
- Rapid weight gain of more than 1.5 - 2kg. in 1 - 2 days.
- Increasing swelling of the legs or ankles, abdomen.
- Increasing fatigue,loss of appetite / nausea.
- Worsening cough with pink - stained sputum.
Managing fluid intake in heart failure.
In heart failure, the body often retains fluid, leading to:
- Increased blood pressure (heart needs to work harder)
- Shortness of breath (due to fluid in the lungs)
- Swelling on ankles, face and hands
- Nausea and bloating
Smoking narrows your blood vessels thus making your heart work harder to pump blood through your body. It will make your heart failure worse. Also stay away from people who smoke so that you avoid any second-hand smoke.
Limit or avoid alcohol
Alcohol makes it harder for the heart to work.
Regular exercise is essential for Heart Failure patients. Exercise will slow down the progress of your disease, prevent weakness and gives you more energy to cope with activities of daily living.
How often should I exercise?
To achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least 3 to 4 times a week.
What If I Can’t Do 20 or 30 Minutes of Exercise?
Everyone has to start somewhere. As such, even if you start with intermittent 5- minute walks, and 5- minute breaks and at a slow pace, it is alright. Over time, string the exercise together, take less breaks and increase your pace and duration gradually.
Which type of exercise is the best?
A combination of:
Flexibility exercises (e.g. stretching, tai chi and yoga) Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.
What type of exercise should I avoid?
Avoid too much isometric exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups or even lifting heavy objects. Isometric exercises involve straining muscles or getting a muscle group to work. High intensity exercises e.g. badminton, tennis, competitive games
Stress makes your blood pressure go up. This makes your heart work harder. It may make your heart failure symptoms worse. You can’t avoid all stress, but you should try to relax and avoid events that cause stress when you can. Here are some ideas:
- Do things you enjoy like reading, painting or listening to music.
- Write down how you feel. Putting your thoughts on paper can help you feel better.
- Go for a walk or get exercise.
- Spend time with caring friends, family or a support group.
- Learn to manage your time better. Don’t take on too many things at once.
- If you can, avoid stressful settings, like rushing to appointments or sitting in heavy traffic.
- Meditate or do breathing exercises.