Heart Failure

ExitCare ImageHeart failure means your heart has trouble pumping blood. This makes it hard for your body to work well. Heart failure is usually a long-term (chronic) condition. You must take good care of yourself and follow your doctor's treatment plan.


  • Take your heart medicine as told by your doctor.

  • Do not stop taking medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

  • Do not skip any dose of medicine.

  • Refill your medicines before they run out.

  • Take other medicines only as told by your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Stay active if told by your doctor. The elderly and people with severe heart failure should talk with a doctor about physical activity.

  • Eat heart healthy foods. Choose foods that are without trans fat and are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt (sodium). This includes fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, fat-free or low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, and high-fiber foods. Lentils and dried peas and beans (legumes) are also good choices.

  • Limit salt if told by your doctor.

  • Cook in a healthy way. Roast, grill, broil, bake, poach, steam, or stir-fry foods.

  • Limit fluids as told by your doctor.

  • Weigh yourself every morning. Do this after you pee (urinate) and before you eat breakfast. Write down your weight to give to your doctor.

  • Take your blood pressure and write it down if your doctor tell you to.

  • Ask your doctor how to check your pulse. Check your pulse as told.

  • Lose weight if told by your doctor.

  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco. Do not use gum or patches that help you quit without your doctor's approval.

  • Schedule and go to doctor visits as told.

  • Nonpregnant women should have no more than 1 drink a day. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day. Talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol.

  • Stop illegal drug use.

  • Stay current with shots (immunizations).

  • Manage your health conditions as told by your doctor.

  • Learn to manage your stress.

  • Rest when you are tired.

  • If it is really hot outside:

  • Avoid intense activities.

  • Use air conditioning or fans, or get in a cooler place.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.

  • If it is really cold outside:

  • Avoid intense activities.

  • Layer your clothing.

  • Wear mittens or gloves, a hat, and a scarf when going outside.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Learn about heart failure and get support as needed.

  • Get help to maintain or improve your quality of life and your ability to care for yourself as needed.


  • You gain 03 lb/1.4 kg or more in 1 day or 05 lb/2.3 kg in a week.

  • You are more short of breath than usual.

  • You cannot do your normal activities.

  • You tire easily.

  • You cough more than normal, especially with activity.

  • You have any or more puffiness (swelling) in areas such as your hands, feet, ankles, or belly (abdomen).

  • You cannot sleep because it is hard to breathe.

  • You feel like your heart is beating fast (palpitations).

  • You get dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up.


  • You have trouble breathing.

  • There is a change in mental status, such as becoming less alert or not being able to focus.

  • You have chest pain or discomfort.

  • You faint.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.