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If I have heart failure, how can I reduce the demand on my heart?

To reduce the demand on your heart:
  • Reduce high blood pressure. Ask your doctor for your blood pressure goal and how to reach it.
  • Get rid of excess body fat. Find healthy ways to lose fat (if needed) and keep a normal body weight. Bodies that are too large put more demand on the heart.
  • Control diabetes by keeping your blood sugar in the range your doctor suggests. Ask if any of your diabetic drugs are likely to lead to fluid buildup.
  • Stop smoking. All tobacco products tighten body arteries and make more work for your heart. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting.
  • If you snore or are sleepy throughout the day, tell your doctor. A sleep study may be needed to see if you have pauses in breathing (apnea) while sleeping.
  • Ask your doctor if you can have alcohol. Since alcohol weakens the heart, heart failure may improve if you stop drinking.
  • Reduce emotional stress. You may feel depressed, angry or anxious because you have heart failure. Talk about your feelings with family, friends or a professional. Low-level exercise, meditation and/or medicine may help.
  • Avoid temperature extremes. The body works harder to keep a normal temperature when you’re too hot or cold.
  • Reduce high cholesterol levels to prevent fatty buildup and damage to your arteries.
  • Stay away from people who have colds or flu. Ask your doctor to keep you up-to-date with flu and pneumonia vaccines.
  • Avoid blood clots. Regular walking and not wearing garters or hose with tight tops help improve blood flow in the legs. Your doctor may also prescribe special compression stockings. An irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) can occur along with heart failure, adding to the risk of a blood clot. Your doctor may ask you to take medication to reduce the risk of a blood clot.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.