Living with heart failure

30th September 2019

Receiving a diagnosis of heart failure can be difficult, so we have put together some tips for living with heart failure.

  • Allow time to rest- exercise is important for most people with heart failure but it is also important to allow your body time to recover. Resting can mean reading a book or listening to music. Break up your activities during the day with a rest; try not to do too much at a time.
  • Eat a healthy diet- a healthy diet can help to improve your heart failure symptoms and your overall health. Try steaming, baking or boiling you foods instead of frying them. Use herbs and spices for flavour rather than salt. Try and avoid processed foods as they can contain salt and sugar, try and prepare your meals from fresh ingredients. Plan you food shop by creating weekly menus which can save money and ensure that you are eating balanced meals. Try to avoid snacking on high sugar snacks, and substitute with fresh fruit if possible.
  • The weather can sometimes affect how we feel and having heart failure can sometimes mean that our body finds it more difficult to adapt to extremes of weather. Avoid exercise during hot weather, keep hydrated but be sensible about drinking too much especially if you are on a fluid restriction. During the colder months wear plenty of thin layers and keep your house warm around 18 oC is ideal.
  • Heart failure can put a greater strain on our body so it is important that you speak to your GP about a yearly influenza (‘flu) vaccination and see your GP if you are concerned about feeling unwell or have a temperature. You could use one of Cardiomyopathy UK’s Symptom Diaries to record your symptoms to share with your GP.
  • Try to remember to take your medications at the correct time each day, you could set an alarm on your phone to help you remember or use a tablet dispenser so that you know what you have taken and when. Ensure that you have sufficient medications available especially if you are going on holiday or when wintery weather is forecast.
  • Sometimes people with heart failure can feel fed up or low in mood. Many people with heart failure have these feelings too, so you are not alone. Try talking to your GP or practice nurse about how you feel, they might be able to suggest support groups or self -help ideas such as joining a local group or club. Try meditation or yoga many studies have shown that meditation can have a positive effect on well-being and quality of life for people who meditated. You could try keeping a diary of how you are feeling as this can be a good tool for ‘reflecting’ on how you coped with similar situations in the past. Be kind to yourself, don’t blame yourself for how you are feeling and consider speaking to someone about how you feel.

Cardiomyopathy UK have a dedicated helpline which you can contact via phone 0800 018 1024 or via live web chat or email at support.nurse@cardiomyopathy.org.