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How to prevent congestive heart failure?

Adjusting your diet. When you have heart failure, what you eat and drink can definitely affect the health of your heart. Try to lose weight if you are overweight to reduce the extra burden on your heart. Do not have too much salt in your diet, as salt may cause water retention. For example, don't add extra salt to food once it's on the table, and reduce the amount used in cooking. Reduce your sodium (salt) intake. Sodium causes your body to retain fluid. We get most of our sodium from salt,

though we also get it from other sources, such as baking soda or MSG (monosodium glutamate), a preservative used commonly in Chinese foods and pre-packaged foods. Eat more foods rich in potassium to replace the potassium you lose when you take diuretics. Potassium is present in green leafy vegetables and most fruits, especially bananas, oranges, and dried fruit.

Monitor your weight. Particularly if you have moderate to severe heart failure. If you retain fluid rapidly, your weight goes up rapidly too. So, if your weight goes up by more than 2 kg (about 4 lb) over 1-3 days, then seek advice from a doctor. You may need an increase in medication. Cut down on fat from meat. Eat smaller portions of red meat. Trim fat off meat. Eat chicken or fish instead. Don't fry your food. Eliminate butter on vegetables. Eat fruit instead of pastry for dessert. Choose low-fat or non-fat milk and other dairy products. Check "Nutrition Facts" labels and buy the brands of food that have low fat or no fat. Use olive oil. Although still high in calories, olive oil doesn't raise the "bad" cholesterol level in your blood. Vegetables and fruit are the perfect food for heart failure patients. They are naturally low in fat, low in sodium, and high in potassium. They help control weight.

Exercise. Get involved in a safe exercise program. This is possible and often desirable for people with heart failure. Consult your health care provider. For most people with heart failure, regular exercise is advised. The fitter the heart, the better it will pump. The level of exercise to aim for will vary from person to person. Before you start to increase your exercise, get the 'go-ahead' from your doctor, as some people with heart valve problems should not exercise. If you are not used to exercise, you could start by going for a daily walk. Swimming and cycling are also good exercises. Exercise may not be possible for some people for various reasons. In most cases, exercise can help people manage heart failure successfully. It strengthens the heart and improves circulation, and also helps you lose weight so your heart doesn’t have to work so hard. A good exercise to start with is walking. You may only be able to walk half a block at first-don’t push yourself. Try to go a bit further each week, and take it one day at time. Also, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

Fluid intake. If you need a high dose of diuretics to clear fluid from your body, then try not to drink more than 2 litres of fluid a day. (You will need to drink more than this if you have diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, or live in hot climates.) Sodium causes your body to retain fluid. In some cases, people with heart failure need to avoid sodium altogether, or your doctor may just want you on a low-sodium diet (for example, consuming less than 2,000 milligrams a day, which is about half the average). Although we get most of our sodium from salt, we also get some from other sources, such as monosodium glutamate or baking soda.

Alcohol. Do not drink too much. Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week (and no more than 4 units in any one day). Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week (and no more than 3 units in any one day).

Do not smoke. The chemicals in tobacco cause blood vessels to narrow (constrict), which can make heart failure worse. Smoking is also likely to make ischaemic heart disease worse.

Immunisation. You should have an annual 'flu jab, and be immunised against the pneumococcal bacterium. These immunisations protect against some severe chest infections which can be quite serious if you have heart failure.

More information on congestive heart failure

What is congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively to the body. Heart failure is a degenerative condition caused by weakening of the heart muscle.
What causes congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the heart muscle, including a heart attack or heart infection; coronary artery disease.
What're the symptoms of congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure symptoms and signs include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, abrupt shortness of breath at night, occasional wheezing, and cough.
How is congestive heart failure diagnosed? - Congestive heart failure is a clinical diagnosis. Diagnosis usually is confirmed by physical examination, patient history, and various tests.
What treatments cure congestive heart failure? - The treatment of congestive heart failure focused on treating the symptoms and signs of congestive heart failure and preventing the progression of disease.
What heart failure medications are available? - Heart failure medications include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), diuretics (water pills).
How to prevent congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be prevented through adjusting diet, monitoring weight, onitor your weight, fluid intake, smoking cessation.
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