February is American Heart Month. While it's important for all of us to take basic steps to improve or maintain a healthy heart, many are dealing with a very serious issue that requires continuous attention. Approximately 5.7 million Americans live with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), according to the CDC. This is a condition in which the heart’s pumping power is weakened, resulting in higher blood pressure and not enough oxygen reaching other parts of the body.

If you have been diagnosed with CHF, here are six things you can do to better manage your condition and keep it from worsening.

Cutting back on your sodium intake. Sodium helps retain water, and it’s common for fluid to build up in the body when you have CHF. You want to limit the fluid build-up, as this can make your heart work harder.

Limiting your fluid intake. Just as we mentioned in the point above, you want to reduce the fluid build-up in your body. Try to keep your liquid intake to less than 2 liters a day.

Lose weight, if needed. Obesity is one of the major causes of CHF, so losing weight is one way to reduce the amount of stress on your heart. You’ll want to learn what your ideal “dry” weight is, which is your weight without the additional fluid build-up. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, after you’ve urinated but before you consume anything.

Follow your doctor’s orders. This includes taking all your medications as prescribed. Some drugs can improve your heart’s pumping ability, reduce harmful hormones and cut back on fluid build-up.

Stop any harmful habits. Taking tobacco products, doing drugs and over-consumption of alcohol can all contribute to a worsening of CHF.

Move around.  Exercise can help make your heart stronger, but make sure to talk to your doctor before you start any regimen. Too demanding of a workout can put more stress on your heart.

Johns Hopkins Home Care Group also helps care for those impacted by CHF. The disease management team provides remote monitoring services to measure vital signs, symptoms and provide education regarding CHF. When biometrics or symptoms indicate, the patient is contacted and assessed remotely. As needed, the patient’s physician is contacted and orders are provided according to need. Contact us at 210-288-8738 or email mlantz@jhmi.edu if you would like to learn more about Remote Patient Monitoring.

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