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Heart Failure Discharge Instructions

Learn how to manage your heart failure care and stay healthy when you return home from the hospital.

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Heart, Vascular & Lung Care

You have been diagnosed with heart failure.

Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped working, but that its pumping power is not s strong as normal.

The following information will help you to recognize the symptoms of your heart failure and prevent them from becoming worse.

What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Failure?

You may not have any heart failure symptoms, or your symptoms could be mild to severe.
 
If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately
  • Swelling of the legs and arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing 
  • Weight gain and bloating
  • Fatigue 
  • Awakening with shortness of breath 
  • Sleeping with extra pillows or in a chair to ease breathing

Tips To Stay Healthy 

You can take an active role in treating your heart failure and maintaining a healthy life, by:

  • Planning rest periods between your activities throughout the day. 
  • Avoiding activities that make your heart work harder, such as working with your arms above your head, or sitting with your legs down for a long time.
  • Taking your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking any medicine without talking to your doctor first. 
  • Avoiding salty foods and not adding salt to your food. Ask your nurse or doctor if you need more information about this.
  • Weighing yourself daily. If you gain more than 2 pounds in 24 hours, or 5 pounds in a week, or if you notice swelling of your feet, ankles or belly, call your doctor right away.
  • Avoiding extreme temperatures and humidity. When it’s below 30 or above 80 – stay inside.
  • Limiting your fluid intake to six cups per day (including coffee, tea, soda, water, milk, juice, Jello, sherbet or soup).
  • Notifying your doctor right away when you are sick. Even a cold can make your heart failure worse.
  • Not smoking.
  • Asking your doctor what exercise is good for you.

Weight Record

Heart failure can cause your body to hold water weight, so it's important to keep track of how much you weigh.

Weigh yourself each morning before you eat breakfast.

Before you weigh yourself, empty your bladder and try to wear the same amount of clothing each time you weigh in. Record your weight daily on this calendar.
 
You should notify your doctor if:
  • You gain more than 2 pounds in 24 hours or 5 pounds in a week.
  • You begin to have trouble breathing.
  • You have swelling in your arms, legs or feet.
  • Your jewelry or clothing is fitting tighter.