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Living with heart failure

2-minute read

Once diagnosed with heart failure there are many aspects of your life that will need to be managed to help keep you healthy. The information below provides some useful tips and contact details.

Manage your fluid balance

You will need to weigh yourself every day to know whether fluid is building up in your body. This can put extra strain on the heart and make your symptoms worse.

If you put on more than 2 kilograms in two days, cut back on your fluids even more and call your doctor.

To manage your fluid balance:

  • keep an eye on your fluid intake (including water, juice, other drinks, soups, ice cream, watery fruit, tea and coffee
  • cut back on salt
  • take medicines (diuretics) that your doctor gives you

Cut back on salt

Salt causes your body to retain fluid. Look for the sodium content on food labels and don’t add salt to your food or in cooking.

Foods that are high in salt include processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausages, sauces and salad dressings, stocks, canned soups, fish in brine, takeaway foods, potato chips and salted nuts, and many Asian foods.

Be smoke-free

Stopping smoking can reduce your risk of further heart disease. For information and support to quit, call the Quitline on 13 7848.

Eat a healthy diet

To eat a healthy diet, you need a variety of foods from the different food groups.

Cut back on alcohol

Never drink more than one to two standard drinks of alcohol per day. If your heart failure was caused by alcohol, you will need to give up altogether.

Cut back on caffeine

Caffeine can affect your heart rhythms and raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Try not to have more than one or two cups of coffee or caffeinated soft drink a day.

Maintain a healthy body weight

If you are overweight, your doctor may advise you to lose weight. This reduces the strain on your heart.

Be physically active

Try to be active every day. If your doctor says it's ok, you can do light- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, cycling on an exercise bike or lifting light weights. Don't let yourself get short of breath or too tired. Don't do anything too strenuous, and don't exercise when the weather is very hot or cold.

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Last reviewed: July 2018

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