Lifestyle Modifications

Changes to a heart failure patient’s dietary habits and lifestyle may be among the first and most important steps taken to treat the disease. Patients are generally advised to limit their intake of fluids in order to reduce the volume of fluid that the heart must move through the body. A doctor may prescribe a diuretic as well, to help remove excess water from the patient’s system.

In general, heart failure patients will want to lower their consumption of sodium, fat, and cholesterol, since all of these contribute to high blood pressure, which burdens the heart. Some patients may be advised to eat potassium-rich foods, since potassium is needed to regulate the heartbeat, and potassium levels in the body can be reduced by the action of diuretics.

When monitored by a doctor, moderate exercise can help keep a heart failure patient’s heart in shape. All patients should limit alcohol and caffeine — if not eliminate them entirely — and should quit smoking.