Self Management of Heart Failure

Staying Healthy at Home with Heart Failure

After you are discharged from the hospital, we want you to be as healthy and safe at home as possible. By carefully following all instructions given to you by your care team, you can help maintain and improve your own health and avoid another hospital stay.

Take Medications as Directed

You are likely taking several medications to manage your heart failure, which may include diuretics (water pills), blood pressure medications and other heart failure medicines. It is very important that you keep an up-to-date list of your medications along with the dosage and frequency and take them exactly as prescribed.

Schedule Follow-Up Appointment(s)

After discharge from the hospital, your doctor will need to see you regularly to check on your progress and to ensure your prescribed medications are working. He or she may adjust the dosage and/or frequency of your medications based on the results of these follow-up visits, so it is very important that you schedule follow-up appointments as recommended by your doctor. You can easily schedule your appointments online or by calling 216-844-3800.

GOOD TO GO: Staying Healthy Between Appointments

Follow these simple steps at home to monitor your health and manage your symptoms:

  1. Exercise. Remaining active is important for your overall health and well-being. However, only you can find the right balance between movement and rest. Try to include 30 minutes of exercise most days – walking is always a good choice – but if you feel dizzy or unwell, stop immediately. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  2. Stop smoking. Keep busy doing things that make it hard to smoke by being more active. Instead of reaching for an e-cigarette or cigarette, pop a piece of hard candy or gum in your mouth. Ask your doctor or nurse about ways to stop smoking such as smoking cessation programs or medicines.
  3. Avoid fluid overload. Excess fluid retention can be a serious problem for people with heart failure and can lead to a return visit to the hospital. To help prevent this problem:
    • Take all medications as directed.
    • Avoid salty foods. Ask your doctor how much sodium you can safely have each day and work hard to avoid exceeding that amount. Read food labels carefully for sodium content and put the salt shaker away.
    • Limit fluid intake. Ask your doctor how many ounces of fluid you can safely have each day and keep track of your intake. Fluids such as clear soups and soda often are high in sodium so your best choice is always water.
    • Monitor your weight. Weigh yourself each morning after going to the bathroom and wearing the same amount of clothing. A weight gain of three pounds or more in one day may be a warning sign of fluid build-up.
    • Watch for swelling. Check yourself daily for swelling in your feet, ankles, legs and belly.

CAUTION: When to Call Your Doctor

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor’s office immediately.

  • Weight gain of three pounds or more and/or swelling in your feet, ankles, legs and belly
  • Feel short of breath / have difficulty breathing
  • Excessive fatigue / low energy
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry, hacking cough that is worse when you lie down
  • Easy bleeding or bruising

STOP: CALL 9-1-1

If you experience chest pain or tightness, fainting, extreme difficulty breathing or mental confusion, call 9-1-1.

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