As part of your treatment program for heart failure, your doctor may recommend making some healthy changes to your lifestyle, including:
Cigarette smoking is one of the most significant risk factors linked to heart disease, and quitting can be one of the most helpful steps you can take to improve your heart health. Smoking causes stress on the heart by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, and the chemicals in cigarette smoke can also damage the blood vessels, causing the heart to work even harder. If you need help quitting, your Houston Methodist doctor can recommend a smoking cessation program.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Extra pounds increase strain on the heart, so if you are overweight, your doctor may recommend a sensible weight loss program. You will also want to monitor your weight regularly and report any sudden increases to your doctor. A sudden jump in your weight can indicate fluid retention, a sign that your condition could be becoming worse.
Tracking Your Fluid Intake
One of the conditions related to heart failure is fluid retention, so your medical team may recommend limiting your intake of fluids. Your doctor may also prescribe a diuretic ("water pill") to reduce fluid retention and reduce stress on the heart.
Limiting Alcohol and Caffeine
Drinking too much alcohol can increase the levels of certain fats (trigylcerides) in the blood and raise blood pressure, and caffeine increases the heart rate. As part of your treatment program for heart failure, your doctor may recommend limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeine to no more than one or two servings of each per day.
Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium can ease stress on the heart, lower blood pressure and help you reach a healthy weight.
Being Physically Active
Regular physical activity can strengthen the heart, lower blood pressure, and help you reach a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is safe and appropriate for your physical condition.
Stress can cause extra strain on your heart, so stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, quiet hobbies or enjoyable pastimes can play an important role in your treatment program.
Your doctor may have other lifestyle recommendations for you, so make sure you understand his or her instructions and follow them closely. If you have any questions, your Houston Methodist team is always here to help.
Learn more about treatments for heart failure:
- Coronary Bypass Surgery
- Heart Valve Repair or Replacement
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
- Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)
For more information about heart failure treatment at the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-DEBAKEY (713-332-2539) or complete our online contact us form.