Self-Care Management Strategies

Heart failure is an ongoing, health condition that can be controlled with medications, diet, and other therapies so long as you remain an active partner in your care. Controlling heart failure symptoms will allow you to live a more active life. You can control heart failure symptoms by following your prescribed treatment plan every day, monitoring yourself routinely for worsening symptoms or sudden changes in weight, and knowing what to do if symptoms worsen. You will be asked to work closely with your heart failure physician and nurses to keep your heart failure under control. The following are self-care management strategies to help minimize your heart failure symptoms:

  • Take your medications daily as prescribed and keep a list of your medications with you at all times
  • Check your weight every morning and call your clinician if you have a sudden increase of 2-3 pounds in one-two days or 5 pounds in a week
  • Know your baseline weight, symptoms, and activity level and notify your physician if significant changes occur.
  • Follow your diet recommendations, which often includes heart healthy, low salt foods and fluid restriction
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Follow your recommended activity and exercise instructions.
  • Maintain regular follow-up appointments
  • Keep a chart or calendar of your heart rate, blood pressure, and weights and bring it to each office visit. Write notes when symptoms are worse and what actions were taken.
  • Learn how to manage stress and better cope with a chronic condition. While it is not always possible to avoid stress, you can choose how you will respond to stressful events in your life. Coping with a chronic health condition is hard work and sometimes requires you to focus on one day at a time or rely on friends and family for support. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help when you need it. Often, you may benefit from talking to people who know firsthand what you are going through. Ask your healthcare provider about available support groups.
  • Choose a durable power of attorney for healthcare and always make your family aware of your advanced directives, which are instructions to your family about the type of medical care you would want if you could no longer express your wishes. You may ask about these forms at your physician’s office.
  • Enjoy your life and stay involved with friends and family. Having heart failure does not mean you should stop living but you should take extra precautions and prepare for planned activities outside of your daily routine. When you are away from home, remember to still meet your sodium goals, take your medications, and weigh yourself daily. If you increase your activity to the point you feel more tired, listen to your body, slow down and learn your limits for next time.