From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Heart Health

Managing heart failure

Palmetto Heart

Although heart failure sounds scary and is a very serious, chronic condition, it does not mean your heart has completely stopped working. Your heart just isn’t able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Heart failure is common, and there are several ways you can manage it. Robin Traufler, NP, Palmetto Heart, shared these tips:

  • Eliminate salt in your diet. Salt can cause your body to hold onto water. This can cause your heart to dilate, or swell up, which can be detrimental to your heart health and overall health. Robin said, “Everyone needs to try to reduce the salt in their diet. Salt is not your friend!”
  • Make changes to your diet. Robin suggested changing your overall diet, eliminating fried food, deli food, canned food and fast food. Try to opt for fresh food as much as you can. “When you’re in the grocery store, shop on the outside isles. That’s where you’ll find the fresh foods you need,” Robin said.
  • Exercise. “Walking is one of the best and easiest ways to help your heart. Try walking for 5 minutes a day, then 10 minutes a day, then gradually build your way up to 30 minutes a day,” Robin said. Find an exercise that you like to do and start doing it!
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you follow a low-salt diet and try to exercise at least five times a week, then it should become easier to lose the weight.
  • Stop smoking. Nothing good comes from smoking. If you need help quitting, Prisma Health offers free smoking cessation and tobacco education programs.
  • Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol can be toxic to the heart, leading to high blood pressure, stroke and obesity – all risk factors for heart failure. 

There are other ways to treat heart failure, such as:

  • Medication therapy. “Medication is an essential part of heart failure therapy and is the backbone of what we do at the Advanced Heart Health Center,” Robin said. Medications are important because they help decrease the amount of work that the heart has to do. Don’t stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.
  • Medical devices. One type of medical device used to treat heart failure is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This is used to monitor and help control problems with the heart.
  • Resynchronization therapy. This is used to help improve the heart’s rhythm by getting the bottom two chambers of the heart working together again.
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD). This is typically for more advanced heart failure patients, and can serve as a bridge to a heart transplant.
Your heart failure diagnosis doesn’t have to be so scary. Protect your heart by making those lifestyle changes and listening to your doctor’s treatment plan for you. 

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