Top Tips for Living with Heart Failure

A Heart Failure Nurse in Cumbria is sharing top tips to help you look after your heart.

The most common cause of Chronic Heart Failure is Coronary Artery Disease, which causes a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries that lead to the heart muscle, reducing the blood flow.

Common symptoms of Chronic Heart Failure include fatigue, general weakness, fluid retention in your legs, ankles, fluid build-up in your lungs affecting your breathing and causing a persistent cough and a rapid or irregular heart rate.

The symptoms can be worse during the winter months so it is important that people take extra care – taking advantage of a free a flu vaccination available from your GP or local pharmacy will help.

Trudy Edgar Heart Failure Specialist Nurse at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) gives five top tips for help manage the Chronic Artery Disease.

This is advice for people diagnosed with Chronic Artery Disease – if you have any concerns it is always best to consult your specialist nurse or GP.

Do continue taking all of your prescribed medications
If you are experiencing side effects talk to your specialist nurse or GP

Weigh yourself every day, before you eat or drink
Even an increase of 2–3lb can be significant; it may mean excess fluid is building up.

If you’ve been advised to restrict your fluid intake, try to stick to the limit.

Get advice from your health professional about staying hydrated during hot weather.

Keep active, but rest when you need to It’s important to stay as active as possible, but some days this may be challenging.

If you feel you need a break, sit and rest with your legs elevated on a foot stool, especially if you have any fluid build-up.

Avoid excess salt Too much salt in your diet can increase blood pressure and the possibility of fluid retention.

Don’t cook with salt (or low-salt alternatives) or add them to your food, and use the traffic light labels on food packaging to help you.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your specialist nurse or GP nurse

The earlier action is taken, the better the outcome can be. Catching a build-up of excess fluid early can prevent hospital admission.

CPFT provide a Heart failure Service to help people manage their condition. Feedback about the team has been very positive.

A patient from Carlisle said “They were friendly, answered my questions and explained things.

I could ring them if I needed reassuring. They gave me confidence to get on with life and feel safe.

Another patient who attended the service in west Cumbria said “The team have helped me get my physical condition back and I feel better today than I have for years. Thank you”.

The Heart Failure services are based around the county and your GP or health professional will be able to make a referral if you feel you might benefit from their support.

The Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group are working together to promote the messages of self care week; a national campaign which is taking place 13th – 19th November.

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