Chronic heart failure develops slowly over months to years. Due to various compensation mechanisms of the body it usually remains unnoticed for a long time. Unfortunately, it can not be reversed. This makes it all the more important to reduce the various risk factors for the heart and blood vessels as well as possible.
This means in the practical everyday life, first of all, the implementation of well-known health recommendations: optimize body weight, ensure adequate exercise and sound sleep, stop smoking, minimize the consumption of alcohol. Of particular importance is, as you know, the balanced and wholesome, as Mediterranean diet as possible. Especially with heart failure, a lack of vitamin D and iron is particularly bad. A healthy diet also requires a reduction in the intake of saline. It is also recommended to limit fluid intake to less than 2 liters a day.
A hot and humid climate is particularly stressful for heart failure patients, as is staying in higher altitudes where air becomes thinner.
Most sufferers are already older. For them it is important not to keep the symptoms of heart failure for seemingly normal signs of aging. Heart failure is at the top of the list of common reasons for hospitalization. This would not be necessary in many cases. With the help of some special tips, some hospital visits could be avoided.
My 11 most important tips
- 1. Take your medication correctly. In heart failure, in many cases, the heart muscle is weakened, which has a negative effect on its pumping power. Therefore, the standard therapy of heart failure include various drugs that are designed to relieve the previously damaged heart muscle. If you do not take them back without consulting the doctor, or if you take them at a reduced dose, you will unnecessarily increase the critical demands of your "pump". It does not matter if you "just" forget about injecting the pills or if you consciously do without it. A questioning of the medication is never wrong. However, you should always involve your doctor.
- 2. Talk to your doctor about problems with the prescribed medications. There is no taboo. For a review and if necessary change the medication come a variety of reasons in question, none of them must be embarrassing. Effects, side effects and personal preferences play a role. Sometimes just the right understanding and knowledge of the relationships. A typical example is dehydrating drugs(Diuretics)which lead to increased bladder activity. This is desirable from the therapeutic point of view and from the heart of your heart, to reduce the volume load that needs to be pumped through the circulation. Nevertheless, if you find the frequent visits to the restroom unreasonable, your doctor should try to find an individual solution.
- 3. Avoid taking heart-weakening medicines. These are those in which the package leaflet under Contraindications listed a heart failure. There are a number of agents that reduce cardiac output. Read the leaflet and refer to your heart failure at the doctor's office if it is known to you, but not yet to the consulted doctor. The substances to be avoided include some herbal supplements and dietary supplements. Talk to your doctor about it.
- 4. Pay attention to your breathing. If you have a lot of breathing problems, it can be a warning sign of decreasing cardiac output. This manifests itself in the form of an increasing shortness of breath during exercise or even at rest. Also typical is a fluid accumulation in the lungs. It is not noticeable during the day, but at night when lying down. Many sufferers then reflexively provide for an elevated position of their upper body while sleeping by stacking several pillows under it. Although this initially provides relief during nocturnal breathing, but does not solve the basic problem. The better reflex in this case is the visit to the doctor in order to specifically support the heart function with therapeutic help and to counteract further deterioration.
- 5. Weigh yourself daily.How come? The reason for this recommendation is that even gaining weight may indicate a worsening of heart function. If you increase more than two kilograms within three days, this indicates increased water retention in the tissue. Such edema can in principle occur anywhere on the body, often they do it e.g. on the feet or lower legs. In cardiac insufficiency, in addition to other effects, it is above all the backflow of the blood before the heart that is responsible. If its pumping capacity decreases so much, urgent action is required. Go to the doctor.Appropriate measures can often prevent hospitalization. Beforehand, the doctor clarifies whether there is perhaps another reason behind the water retention or weight gain.
By the way: even the reduction of overweight means a relief for your body. The daily weighing can be a motivational support.
- 6. Measure your blood pressure regularly. Because high blood pressure is never good in the long run, for an already weakened heart but particularly unfavorable. Increased blood pressure values mean that your cardiomyocyte has to be pumped against unnecessarily high circulatory resistance. Various countermeasures are then announced, e.g. antihypertensive drugs.
The intervals at which blood pressure can be sensibly measured depend on the individual overall situation. This can be weekly, but maybe your doctor will advise you on a different frequency. In any case, it is important to have regularity in order to be able to reliably record and assess changes. Sphygmomanometers for the homeYou will find here.
- 7. Check your pulse now and then. Does it seem irregular to you? Are you experiencing dropouts or intermediate strokes while feeling the pulse? Is your heart rate already in the state of physical rest at a value over 100 per minute? Then you should make your way to the doctor's office, there to clarify any cardiac arrhythmia. This is u.a. recorded an ECG. When the heart rate is disturbed, the pumping power is reduced, which further worsens the situation with cardiac insufficiency. A regular check for possible arrhythmias is therefore recommended, at home and in the doctor's office.
- 8. No matter how old you are, move as much as possible.Contrary to early doctrine, a general relief of cardiac insufficiency is no longer required - on the contrary. At best, in very advanced stages of heart disease (NYHA Stage IV) and in special situations, rest is preferred. Most people with heart failure can significantly reduce their risk of heart failure by doing moderate exercise. Studies have shown that mortality has been reduced by more than 30%. Almost as much physical activity alone reduced the number of hospital admissions. Even with minimal stress, consistent and measurable effects can be achieved with consistent training.
Of course, the exercise must be adapted to your performance and it should not require much effort. Well suited are e.g. Walks, longer hikes, Nordic walking or cycling. Depending on your state of training, other sports such as Cross-country skiing, in question. Do not overstrain yourself and stop immediately if you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath or dizziness. Inquire about cardio sports that are specifically tailored to the needs of the heart.
- 9. Ensure a sufficient supply of vital substances.The influence of nutrition on health is underestimated again and again. This also applies to the heart. Try to be as healthy and balanced as possible. Make sure you have enough nutrients.
If in doubt, you can also help here. We often recommend one hereHealth juicewhose effectiveness has been scientifically tested. With one spoon per day you cover all important vital substances. One bottle is enough for 50 days.
- 10. Increase your self-control. This makes it easier for you to deal with the illness problem and helps you to an improved quality of life. Using a heart diary, history allows you to more quickly identify cardiac dysfunction and avoid hospitalization. Find out more about the range of cardiac schools that want to convey a heart-saving behavior with a holistic concept. You may want to think about changing some habits for the sake of your heart. In any case, it is recommended to learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as Yoga, mediation and autogenic training.
- 11. Get vaccinated against the flu. A true flu beats down even healthy organisms for a while. For a previously damaged heart, it means a particularly heavy burden. Therefore, people with heart failure as a group of people for whom the flu vaccine is specifically recommended. The high variability of influenza viruses requires ongoing vaccine adaptation to ensure the best possible vaccine protection. Take care of the annual vaccination date at the latest in autumn.
Author: Dr. Hubertus Glaser