By: Bethel Pointe Health & Rehabilitation—
Muncie, IN—Heart failure, sometimes called a “weak heart,” is a serious and progressive disease that develops over time and is defined simply as, “a heart that is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands.” If left untreated, the inadequate blood flow causes the organs to progressively fail. This can result in numerous medical complications which reduces quality of life. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Heart Failure Society of American (HFSA), about 6 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
The symptoms of heart failure vary, but can include shortness of breath; swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen, or weight gain; tiredness, fatigue; lack of appetite, nausea; confusion or impaired thinking and increased heart rate.
The goal of treatment for heart failure is to have the heart beat more efficiently so that it can meet the energy needs of the body. Depending on the severity of heart failure, there may be many treatment choices that can help patients live longer and feel better.
Lifestyle modification is one of the most important aspects a person can incorporate to treat heart failure. Some of these lifestyle changes include diet, exercise, fluid regulation and weight maintenance.
When considering diet, reading food labels and paying close attention to sodium intake becomes crucial.
Restricting salt and fluid intake is often recommended because of the tendency of fluid to accumulate in the lungs and surrounding tissues, which puts a greater strain on the heart. Individuals with heart failure are usually advised an intake of no more than 2 grams (2000mg) of sodium per day.
Having heart failure does not mean restricting activity. In fact, exercise is essential to help strengthen the heart. Exercise helps increase energy levels and makes the whole body healthier, which helps you feel better and live longer. As a general rule, try and eat a small snack at least one hour before exercise. When eating a small to large meal, you would want to do so 3-4 hours before exercising. During exercise you would always want to pay attention for symptoms of overexertion which would include tightness in the chest or pain anywhere in your body, lightheadedness, dizziness or confusion, nausea, shortness of breath that is worse than usual, extreme tiredness or weakness and a racing heartbeat. If one was to have any of these symptoms, you would want to stop exercising and call your health careprovider.
An important tool for monitoring an appropriate fluid balance is the tracking of body weight. An increase in body weight of 2-3 pounds over 2-3 days should prompt a call to your physician.
Bethel Pointe Health & Rehabilitation has a dedicated medical team of physicians, nurses, therapist, dietitians, case managers and pharmacy technicians that are committed to assisting individuals in the management and treatment of symptoms associated with Heart Failure Disease so you can be Living Well soon.