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 keep all scheduled appointments. Be sure to follow-up with your doctor at least once a month for three months. 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. Activity. Find a balance between being active and resting. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  2. Stop smoking. If you are a current smoker, it is essential that you make every effort to stop. Resources to help you do this, include:
    • UH pamphlet, “Smoking Cessation: How to Be a Quitter”
    • Tobacco Intervention & Psychosocial Support (TIPS) for patients with active cancer. Call 216-368-5643
    • The Ohio Smoking Cessation Hotline. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW
  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 to 2 liters per day or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor how many ounces of fluid you can safely have each day and keep track of your intake. Keep in mind that fluids such as soups and soda are often high in sodium.
    • 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
  • Need more pillows to sleep
  • Feel more tired or have less energy
  • Feel dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • 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, struggling to breathe, feeling short of breath at rest or mental confusion, call 9-1-1.

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