Heart failure is not the same thing as someone’s heart stopping. This term refers to a condition where the heart has been damaged due to a heart attack or other disorder and is not pumping blood at full capacity. The organs and tissues in the body don’t get the same level of nutrients as they would if the heart was pumping properly.
The lower-than-normal pumping action can also lead to fluid building up in the patient’s lungs, as well as the extremities. Swelling of the feet and hands are symptoms of heart failure. Unexplained shortness of breath or a sudden weight gain (more than 3 lb. in a couple of days or 5 lb. in a week) also warrant getting checked out by a doctor. If the symptoms are severe, go to the closest Emergency Room or call the local emergency number for assistance.
Medical Treatment for Heart Failure
Once heart failure has been diagnosed, the doctor will discuss treatment options. Medications to help improve the heart’s pumping function may be prescribed, along with diuretics to deal with the fluid buildup that accompanies this condition.
In some cases, a special pacemaker may be used to help the right and left chambers of the heart pump more efficiently. For patients with severe heart failure, a heart transplant may be necessary.
Exercise and Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure Patients
Patients who have been diagnosed with heart failure can benefit from taking good care of their health. Eating a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats is part of an overall lifestyle improvement.
Once heart failure has been diagnosed, the patient needs to watch his or her fluid intake carefully and consume no more than six-eight glasses or 2 liters of fluids daily. This calculation includes water, juice, milk, coffee and tea. Water should account for at least half of the daily fluid intake.
Exercise helps heart failure patients by strengthening the heart muscle, which helps to improve blood flow. Once the doctor gives the all-clear to exercise, it’s important to start slowly. Going for a walk is a good example of cardiovascular exercise that can be performed by a person at any level of fitness. The level of activity can be increased over time, and the patient will start to see the benefits of an active lifestyle relatively quickly.
Being active is a great way to deal with stress and helps to promote a positive outlook. For a person who has been diagnosed with heart failure, getting physical and making other lifestyle changes can help them feel more in control of the situation.