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the 5 habits to manage your heart failure

The 5 simple things you can do each day to help manage your energy and zest for life when you have heart failure. These easy habits will transform your life and make living with heart failure 100 times easier!

Knowing what you can / can’t or should / shouldn’t do when you have heart failure can be daunting. It is easy to feel betrayed by your heart knowing it isn’t working as well as it should. You are likely feeling:

  • Short of breath
  • Easily fatigued
  • Sluggish and low on energy
  • Lower mood because you can’t do what you want or would normally do

Firstly, these are responses normal and you are not alone. You can’t always control what has happened to you, but you can control how you respond to it and move forward. Here are 5 simple things you can do to regain control over your life and regain your energy and zest for life again.

  1. Weigh yourself every morning.
  2. Walk daily.
  3. Do some strength training.
  4. Watch your fluid intake.
  5. Pace yourself.

 

weigh yourself daily

Normally, we don’t recommend weighing yourself often, but in people with heart failure it is a good way to check in with your heart function. A 2kg increase in weight in 2 days is a sign your heart is struggling, and you need to take action. Call your doctor or heart failure nurse or other health care professional.

If you notice a rapid increase in weight in a relatively short space of time, this is likely because your body is holding onto excess fluid that your heart is struggling to get rid of. So, every morning take the following steps to check in with your heart:

  1. Wake up
  2. Wee
  3. Weigh
  4. Write it down

 

walk everyday

Every day. Keep moving, keep the blood flowing. Keeping up your fitness will help manage and even improve your heart function. But even if your heart function itself doesn’t improve, your ability to transport oxygen around your body and the ability of your muscles to use it to create energy will!

Start small and build slowly. Even if it’s only to the letterbox and back. Side note: if walking if too difficult at the moment, try marching on the spot, cycling, boxing or dancing. Any movement, no matter how little you think it is, is beneficial.

 

do some strength training

When your heart is moving less blood around your body, it becomes harder to do things, which usually results in you doing less. When you do less, your muscles become smaller and weaker.

In order to break this cycle, you need to do some form of muscle strengthen exercises to maintain and even improve your muscle strength. When your muscles are stronger your daily life becomes easier – getting up out of a chair, getting down and up from the floor to play with your kids or grandkids and even gardening will be easier when you have the strength to support you.

You don’t have to go to a gym or use fancy equipment. Some simple exercises like standing up and sitting down from a chair multiple times and push ups against a wall or bench will help. Water bottles, tinned food and elastic bands can be used as well.

 

watch your fluid intake

When you have heart failure, it is harder for your heart to move blood (and fluid) around your body, which makes it harder for your body to get rid of excess fluid. You have likely been told to stick to a fluid restriction (such as 1.5L) each day. This is to help your body maintain fluid balance knowing that it currently has issues with getting rid of fluid. If you have less coming in, then less needs to go out and the less your heart has to work to push the blood around your body.

Handy tip! Keep a water bottle that you know how much liquid it can hold. Keep in mind that tea, coffee, soup and some foods such as watermelon all count towards your daily fluid intake.

 

pace yourself

This can be the hardest part. If you go too hard too fast, you will write yourself off for hours or even days. You might feel good going for a half hour walk or during your first gym session and want to do more. Pause. Take a breath. And see how you feel for the rest of the day and next couple of days before you progress.

Managing your energy levels will be key to maintaining performance, output and pace. Even if you’re returning to work, start slow and build progressively. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and ask for help. It’s much better than writing yourself off and not being able to do anything. Or worse still, put yourself in hospital.

 

So, there you have it. The 5 simple daily habits you can do to help manage your heart failure. Attending cardiac rehab and participating in regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of going back to hospital by 18% [Reference 1]. This was regardless of your age, sex, frailty, type of heart failure or whether or not you have other health conditions.

Participating regular, appropriate exercise program will improve fitness, strength, mobility, balance, mental health (less depression and anxiety) and quality of life. This means you will notice less shortness of breath and fatigue, more energy and better mood. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, get in contact with us and we would be more than happy to help.

Want an exercise program that you can do from the comfort of your own home? We can help.

Want to come in for group classes to be accountable and have regular contact with other people with heart conditions as well as friendly and experienced health professionals? We can help with that to.

So, the real question is, are you ready to get back to a healthier, happier you? Contact us to chat about your options and we can guide you on the right (easy, simple and fun) path.

 

Need help or guidance? Book in for a one-on-one consultation with us to find out what’s best for you and your health.

Can’t get to us? Read our Telehealth Blog to find out if this option suits you better.

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