Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although many cases of heart failure can't be reversed, treatment can sometimes improve symptoms and help you live longer. You and your doctor can work together to help make your life more comfortable. Pay attention to your body and how you feel, and tell your doctor when you're feeling better or feeling worse. This way, your doctor will know what treatment works best for you.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions about living with heart failure. These steps can help you work most effectively with your doctor:

  • Keep track of the medications you take. Make a list and share it with any new doctors treating you. Carry the list with you all the time.
  • Avoid certain over-the-counter medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, others), cold medications and diet pills may worsen heart failure and lead to fluid buildup.
  • Be careful about supplements. Some dietary supplements may interfere with heart failure medications or could worsen your condition. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking.
  • Keep track of your weight and bring the record to visits with your doctor. An increase in weight can be a sign you're building up fluids. Your doctor may tell you to take extra diuretics if your weight has increased more than a pound (0.5 kilograms) or so in a day.
  • Keep track of your blood pressure. Consider purchasing a home blood pressure monitor. Keep track of your blood pressure between doctor appointments and bring the record with you to visits.
  • Write down your questions. Before a doctor appointment, prepare a list of any questions or concerns. For example, is it safe for you and your partner to have sex? Most people with heart failure can continue sexual activity once symptoms are under control.
  • Ask for clarification. Make sure you understand what your doctor is saying.

Managing heart failure requires an open dialogue between you and your doctor. Be honest about whether you're following recommendations concerning your diet, lifestyle and taking medications. Your doctor often can suggest strategies to help you get and stay on track.

Aug. 16, 2013

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