The first step to managing your congestive heart failure symptoms is to know what’s normal for you. This is considered your baseline. Knowing your baseline and tracking these heart failure symptoms every day can help you quickly identify signs of your condition worsening.
Download a heart failure symptom tracking chart. (PDF, 55 KB)
Symptoms you should track include:
Rapid weight gain
This symptom means that your body is retaining fluids. Weigh yourself at the same time every day on the same scale and alert your doctor if you gain more than two pounds in one day or more than five pounds in a week.
Blood pressure and heart rate
You should take these measurements daily and alert your cardiologist if the readings are different from your baseline.
Shortness of breath
This can include getting winded during easy activities, having difficulty breathing when lying down or needing to sit up to breathe better. If your shortness of breath is greater than normal during your usual activities, alert your physician.
This means your body is retaining excess fluid.
Fatigue can be a sign that your body is not circulating enough blood. If your fatigue is greater than normal, alert your physician.
Talk to your physician about developing an action plan in the case of worsening symptoms.
Download a heart failure action plan worksheet. (PDF, 34 KB)
Lifestyle changes are an important part of managing heart failure and reducing symptoms. You may feel overwhelmed by what you need to do to keep your heart failure under control, so it may be easier to set goals for yourself. Healthy lifestyle goals should include:
Maintain a heart healthy diet that is low in sodium, fat and cholesterol.
Take your medications as prescribed by your cardiologist.
Stay active by engaging in activities that are approved by your heart failure doctor. If you feel signs of overexertion such as pain or discomfort in your chest, racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, stop your activity and seek immediate medical attention.
Quit smoking immediately. If you need help, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs.
Find ways to reduce your stress, which can include, meditation, relaxation exercises, spending time with friends, or taking up a hobby.
Get plenty of rest and listen to your body for signs of fatigue.
Your doctor will help you create a healthy lifestyle plan that includes exercise and dietary options that are right for you. It is important to take all medications as prescribed and to schedule regular appointments with your doctor.