Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with heart failure (HF) or congestive heart failure (CHF)? This information can help you feel better, longer, and stay out of the hospital.
Successfully Managing Heart Failure at Home
Heart disease is alarmingly prevalent and the number one cause of disability and death in the United States. Heart failure in particular impacts about 6.2 million Americans according to the American Heart Association’s 2020 Statistical Update.
What is heart failure (HF) or congestive heart failure (CHF)?
A diagnosis of heart failure (HF) means that one’s heart is not pumping as strongly as it should be. Sometimes the terms “heart failure” and “congestive heart failure” (CHF) are used interchangeably, although CHF has the added meaning that a backup of blood is causing swelling (congestion, or edema) in body tissues.
HF/CHF is a chronic disease that cannot be cured, but with timely health care, it can be well managed to slow the progression of symptoms and extend the length and quality of life.
Home health allows you to live better, longer with heart failure
HF/CHF can make everyday activities more difficult and cause common symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and cough.
One thing that can make a big difference is the support of family, friends, and/or professional home caregivers who understand heart failure, its warning signs, and HF/CHF management. There are many things an individual can do at home to feel better and live longer.
Ways to treat heart failure at home
Daily management of this chronic disease is important not only to feel as good as possible but to prevent adverse events, serious complications, and recurring hospitalizations. Vital signs must be checked every day, and specific lifestyle changes can help individuals with HF/CHF continue to enjoy a full, independent life.
These simple steps can make a big difference:
1. Weigh yourself every day.
Sudden weight gain is one of the first signs of new or worsening heart failure. It means you are retaining fluid. Weigh yourself after the first urination of the day, every day, and keep a record. If you gain three or more pounds in one day, or five or more pounds in one week, call your doctor right away, because they can intervene with treatment that can prevent an adverse event or hospitalization.
2. Monitor your blood pressure.
Over time, high blood pressure puts a strain on your heart. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice on which monitor is best and how to use it.
3. Reduce salt intake.
Limiting salt is the #1 dietary recommendation for people with HF/CHF. Choose healthy, whole foods and avoid unhealthy items like bacon, canned soup, fried foods, salted butter, and fast food. Resist the urge to pick up the salt shaker, too.
4. Take medications as directed.
It’s critical for people with heart failure to take medications as prescribed by their doctor. Reminders can be a big help.
5. Dress loosely in layers.
Avoid clothes that can restrict blood flow from the lower part of your body to your heart, especially socks or hosiery with a tight band at the top. Controlling your body temperature is also important in managing heart failure. Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed to stay comfortable.
6. Develop good sleep habits.
Congestive heart failure makes getting good rest even more critical. People with heart failure have a high incidence of sleep-disordered breathing, and as heart failure worsens, so does the frequency of sleep apnea. It’s important to control both conditions.
How BAYADA can help
Professional home health care services are an extension of your doctor’s care and the most cost-effective way to ensure that heart failure is comprehensively managed on a regular basis.
If you have heart failure, BAYADA can help with:
1. Managing diet and lifestyle changes
2. Giving medication reminders and managing medication schedules
3. Monitoring vital signs and changes in symptoms such as swelling, heart rate or palpitations, cough or wheezing.
4. Providing respiratory therapies and ensuring that oxygen and medical supplies are always available
5. Managing heart failure, blood pressure, diabetes, or COPD
6. Educating client and family members about chronic illness and the purpose, side effects, and interactions of medications
7. Teaching how to conserve energy and enhance quality of life
8. Supervising doctor- or therapist-prescribed home exercise programs
Take control today
BAYADA Home Health Care has hundreds of local offices nationally and is a trusted leader among home health care providers. Home Health services are covered 100 percent for eligible Medicare patients. Speak to your doctor about how home health care can help. Our skilled nurses and home health teams provide a full range of clinical care and support at home for children and adults of all ages. If you are looking at getting help at home for you or your loved one, reach out to your local BAYADA Office or call (888) 876-0111 to get started or learn more.
Originally published: December 2013
Updated: February 2022