How to live with congestive heart failure
The physical, mental, and emotional toll of coping with a serious disease can be difficult for anyone to handle. The good news is you can incorporate changes into your lifestyle that will help you control your condition and prevent it from exacerbating. Try these tips today:
1. Listen to your body
A CHF diagnosis and all the medications that come with it can significantly impact your body. Weight gain and swelling in the lower extremities are common indicators that things are trending the wrong way. Are you feeling weak or overly tired? Keep an eye on your symptoms and document them daily to share with your practitioner, who can help you refine your treatment plan.
2. Eat better
Two of the leading causes of congestive heart failure are diabetes and obesity. One of the best ways to slow the effects of CHF is to improve your diet. Steer clear of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt and focus on eating vegetables, fruits, fish, and other nutrient-rich meals. Reducing your alcohol intake can also make a difference, as drinking can impair your heart muscles. Changing your diet is a big commitment that can be daunting. However, the many benefits you will receive — including weight loss, increased energy, and better sleep — are well worth the extra effort.
3. Exercise more
When considering congestive heart failure lifestyle changes, increasing your level of exercise is important. Ease into a routine that suits you, and do not overdo it. Doing too much too soon can cause injury or put added strain on your heart. Start by walking at a comfortable pace and stretching every day. Weight training and cycling are also excellent workouts to consider integrating into your routine. If you are new to exercising regularly, you will be amazed at the positive impact moderate physical activity can have on your body and overall state of mind. Always contact your practitioner before starting any exercise routine.
4. Cut out the stress
Stress can do a number on your body and emotional state. It can raise your blood pressure, which has a direct impact on your heart. Of course, you cannot eliminate all the stressors that daily life brings. However, there are steps you can take to reduce stress levels, such as:
- Cardiovascular exercise
- Getting out in nature
- Reducing screen time
- Going to bed earlier
- Talking to a therapist
5. Use heart-monitoring tools
One of the benefits of living in the digital age is the many valuable tools at our disposal. There are various available devices or apps designed to keep tabs on your health. Speak with your practitioner about data collection tools you both can use to monitor your heart condition. These tools can allow your practitioner to adjust your treatment and make other recommendations when necessary.
Making the lifestyle changes you need to manage your heart condition can be overwhelming, so do not be afraid to ask for help and support. You do not need to be an expert on nutrition, exercise, or wellness to improve your overall health and well-being. However, seeking support and encouragement from family, friends, and caregivers is important. Invite loved ones to join you in a wellness plan, and, most importantly, keep a positive outlook.