Heart Disease in Women

December 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death of American women.  is No. 3. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects a woman’s heart and blood vessels.  One out of every 10 women between the ages of 45 and 64 has some form of CVD.  Once a woman reaches 65, this increases to 1 out of every 4.  Every year about 500,000 women have a and about 370,000 of them die.  And, almost 100,000 women die each year of stroke.

What are the Cardiovascular Diseases of the Heart?

The most common CVDs are:

  • Coronary is when plaque builds up and blocks or slows down the blood flow through the vessels in the heart. Some symptoms are:
  • Angina – chest pain caused when the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked for a short time
  • Heart attack – when areas of the heart die because the flow of blood and oxygen is blocked off for a longer time
  • Heart failure – when the heart can not pump enough blood out of the heart as it should and the body does not get enough blood and oxygen
  • High blood pressure – when the pressure inside the walls of blood vessels is higher than normal
  • Stroke – when a blood vessel that takes blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or bursts and a area of the brain (and the area of the body the body it controls) can’t work as it should

What are factors put you a risk for CVD?

Risk factors are things that increase your chances of getting a disease.  Some risk factors you cannot control.  But, some you can control and even change.  Some women’s risk are higher than others.

The main risk factors for CVD that you can’t control are age and a family history of CVD.  The factors you can control or change are:

  • Being overweight
  • Having diabetes
  • Having high blood cholesterol
  • Not being physically active
  • Smoking

What Can you do?

If you have at least 1 risk factor for CVD you should learn how to control it or prevent. By taking active role in your health care, you can make a difference.  Tell your doctor or nurse what’s going on with your health.  Ask questions or talk with about concerns you have.  Ask if there are any medical tests you should take to see if you already have CVD.

Learn which lifestyle changes can help lower your risks.  Making changes in your habits is the first step in preventing or controlling CVD.  Making these changes is very important if you are African-American or over the age of 55.

Do you have any of these risk factors and habits you can control or change?

  • Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
  • Get up and get active.
  • If overweight, work on losing weight.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
  • Reduce your blood cholesterol levels.
  • If you take medicine for blood pressure or pre-diabetes, take it exactly as you should.

The Good News!

Changing your habits isn’t easy – but it works.  It can lower your risks for CVD.  If you already have CVD, it can help your heart and blood vessels get healthier.  Here’s how:

  • Once you stop smoking, within a few years your risks for heart disease will be the same as that of a non-smoker.
  • Getting more exercise can help you lose weight, prevent and control high blood pressure, increase your good cholesterol levels and can even help prevent and control diabetes.
  • By eating less fat and cholesterol, more fruits and vegetables and watching how much salt you use, you can help reduce high blood pressure and bad cholesterol and take off extra pounds.
  • If you take off extra weight it can lower your risk for CVD, help prevent or control diabetes (if you have it) and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

It’s up to you. By making some effort the heart you save may be your own.

Tags: heart attack, Diabetes, Stroke, Cardiovascular diseases, Coronary heart disease, Aging-associated diseases, chest pain, heart failure, high blood pressure

How to quit smoking!

December 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

is the single most preventable cause of disease in the United States today. Smoking is related to the development and complication of many major diseases, including lung , emphysema, and strokes. Stopping smoking now will greatly improve your health – regardless of how much you currently smoke or how long you have been smoking!

Remember that all forms of tobacco are dangerous; there is no safe use of tobacco. So, the term “smoking” refers to the use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and even smokeless tobacco, often called chewing tobacco or snuff.

The National Cancer Institute, in its pamphlet called “Clearing the Air”, has outlined the following comprehensive strategies for quitting smoking. You can get a copy of this pamphlet by calling NCI at 1-800-4-cancer. The National Cancer Institute recommends that you begin by preparing to stop. You must decide positively that you want to stop more than you want to remain a smoker. List all the reasons you want to quit and reread them often. Begin to prepare yourself physically as well as mentally for your quit day: start a modest exercise program, drink more water and juice, get lots of rest and avoid fatigue. As you prepare to quit, remember that smoking cessation isn’t easy, but it is something that you can do! More than 3 million people quit smoking each year in the United States!!! Also remember that withdrawal symptoms will occur but will subside after the first few weeks. If you need help, there are Connecticut withdrawal centers and other US facilities that can provide you what you need. You can make it!!

This time of preparation may be a good time for you to involve someone else in your quit efforts. Maybe you can invite your spouse or friend to quit with you or enlist their positive support as you make this important step toward a healthier future!

Just before you stop, practice going without cigarettes as much as possible. If you want to smoke go to one designated area of your house that you can smoke in, such as a garage, porch or basement. Ceremoniously eliminate all smoking materials- cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. No longer carry cigarettes around with you. If you need to smoke, stop whatever it is that you are doing and go to the designated area to smoke. Also, try buying cigarettes one pack at a time.

These tips make it very inconvenient to smoke, will force you to slow down your smoking, and hopefully eliminate some of the more unnecessary cigarettes in your habit. Keep your mind focused on the immediate challenge at hand: to go for one day without smoking. Don’t shoot for a whole smoke-free lifetime at this stage!

Set a quit date when you will finally quit smoking. Set this date for no more than 7 days from now, so you don’t lose your initial enthusiasm! Set yourself up for success and pick a good day when you are ready to tackle such a monumental challenge. The day when you have a big presentation to deliver at work, the kid’s carpool to drive, and a dinner party to make is probably not a good quit date!! Ask yourself, is there anything in my life that is going to prohibit me from giving this my best effort?

On the day that you quit, keep yourself very busy!! Go to the movies, take a walk, exercise – and fill your time with activities that would make it very hard to smoke, such as washing dishes, gardening, shopping, or taking a shower.

Celebrate your first smoke-free day with a smoke-free activity with some non-smoking friends! (Don’t worry! You don’t have to give up your friends who are smokers!) You may want to temporarily avoid spending a lot of time with them during your first few smoke-free days. If you see them smoking, your resolve may be weakened. You may also want to avoid alcohol during these critical first days; it tends to weaken your willpower!

When you have the urge to smoke, remember that the urge will go away, whether or not you have a cigarette!!!! Remind yourself that you are now a nonsmoker and remind yourself of all the reasons you listed for wanting to stop. Find some substitute activities to occupy your hands, mouth, and mind when craving cigarettes. Try doodling, writing letters, or organizing your sock drawer to keep your hands busy. Fill your mouth with non-fattening goodies, such as vegetable sticks, pretzels, rice cakes, or sugarless gum and candies. Occupy your mind with positive thoughts of a future smoke-free vacation, home and life!

Try wearing a rubber band around your wrist, and when you really feel like you want a cigarette, snap the rubber band a few times and say stop to yourself. While you are snapping, picture a red stop sign. You will slowly be teaching yourself to stop craving cigarettes!!!

Figure out right now what you are going to do during future high risk situations, such as at a party where many people are smoking of maybe on your drive to work when you used to always have a cigarette. Plan now for future success!!!

It may help you to change your daily routine, especially your morning routine. After meals, get up from the table and brush and floss your teeth or start washing the dishes, rather than sit there and linger over a deadly cigarette. Eat your lunch in a different location or try taking a different route to work. You’re starting a new smoke-free life. Why not try some new smoke-free routines?

During your entire quit effort, keep a positive attitude! If negative thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself that you are a non-smoker and that you are in control of your life and health. You do not want to start smoking again!! It will get easier with every craving that you refuse to give in to. Try some relaxation techniques to help you stay relaxed and better able to handle the challenges of quitting. There are numerous relaxation techniques you could try.

After you have made it through those initial days and weeks after quitting, don’t let your guard down! You must act like a non-smoker everyday! If, however, you do have a slip, don’t worry! Many people make several quit attempts before they are ultimately successful. Begin your quit strategy again. Remember what it was that got you into trouble the last time and plan to be better prepared to stay quit. How will you handle that urge if it should come up again? Always have one trustworthy coping skill that works for you when the cravings get tough.

You can quit smoking!! There are more than 40 million Americans alive today who have quit – you can join them!! Remember, quitting smoking now will greatly improve your health! Try it!

Tags: cancer, Tobacco packaging warning messages, Cigar, Smoking cessation, Lung cancer, Cigarette, Smoking, heart disease, Tobacco smoking, Tobacco

Heart Failure and Pain Medicines

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Some medicines can make heart failure worse by making your body retain water. Most of these medicines are for pain and are similar to aspirin or in a class of medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS. Some medicines to be cautious of are listed below.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin™, Advil™, Nuprin™)
  • Aspirin (Ecotrin™, Ascriptin™,
  • Anacin™, Bufferin™, Aspergum™)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve™)
  • Goodys Powder™
  • BC Powder™
  • Ketoprofen (Orudis KT™)
  • Excedrin™
  • Alka-Seltzer™
  • Pepto-Bismol™
  • Magnesium salicylate (Doan’s™)

Prescription Medications

  • Naproxen (Naprosyn®, Anaprox®)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin®)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin®)
  • Oxaprozin (Daypro®)
  • Relafen®
  • Celebrex®
  • Vioxx®
  • Etodolac (Lodine®)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren®)
  • Salsalate (Disalcid®)
  • Choline mag.trisalicylates (Trilisate®)

How can you be sure your medicine is OK to take?
Talk with your doctor before taking any new medication. You can also:

  • Read the the label for a list of ingredients. Avoid medicines that contain sodium as sodium causes water retention.
  • Ask your pharmacist. Many pharmacies have computer programs that can determine interactions between certain medicines and diseases as well as interactions between medicines you are already taking.

What other ways can you control pain?
Try using:

  • Heat or ice for 20 minutes at a time.
  • Tylenol® (acetaminophen)
  • Water aerobics
  • Creams or ointments
  • Non-aspirin related pain medicines
  • Exercise

What else can you do?
Monitor your weight, that means, weigh every day and keep a written record of your weight. If you gain 2 or more pounds in 1 day or 3-5 pounds in 1 week, call your doctor right away. Gaining weight in such a short time may be a sign that you are retaining water, and your doctor may need to change your treatment plan.

Tags: doctor, Anaprox, heart disease, heart medication, Over-the-Counter Medications

Health Risk Factors

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

A health risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease. A health risk factor can be your age, sex, lifestyle, personal health history, or family health history.

If you have certain risk factors you are considered “at high risk.” For example, if you have a family history of , you are considered at high risk for heart disease. However, being at high risk does not mean that you are sure to develop a disease, just at “not at high risk” does not mean you won’t develop a disease. Because of the relationship between risk factors and disease, risk factors are used to determine how often you should receive preventive care services from your health care provider. Preventive care has proven value in the prevention and early detection of many diseases. These services include screenings for cancer and other diseases, immunizations, and clinical exams. You may need preventive care services every year, or only a health assessment every 3 to 5 years.

Become an active partner in managing your wellness. Make a note of the risk factors that you have. If you are at high risk and have not had the recommended preventive care, you should call your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant for a preventive care visit. Take your list with you; talk about the risk factors you have noted. Ask for a prevention plan you can use to improve your health and well being.

If you are not at high risk, you probably don’t need preventive care services right away. You should use the recommended preventive care schedules in this section as a guide. Only your personal physician can advise you about preventive care services for you. Even if you feel healthy, you should see your physician for a health assessment:

  • Every 5 years between ages 20 to 40
  • Every 3 years between ages 40 to 50
  • Every year after age 50
Tags: heart disease, Occupational safety and health, preventive care services, Aging-associated diseases, screenings for cancer, physician assistant

Heart Stents and Angioplasty

August 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

The purpose of the following information is to help you understand coronary artery disease () and the treatment of it using a coronary stent. If you have any questions about the following information, write them down and discuss them with your doctor, , or nurse.

About one third of all Americans develops some form of heart disease. Heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a thickening of the inside lining of the blood vessels. This thickening results from the deposit of fatty substances such as cholesterol. As the inside of the blood vessels thicken there is less room for the blood to pass through the arteries. Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA or angioplasty) is a procedure that is commonly performed on people with heart disease. This procedure is done to open up the blood vessel to allow the blood to pass through more easily.

PTCA means:
Percutaneous – performed through the skin
Transluminal – through the inside opening of a vessel
Coronary – relating to arteries or veins of the heart
Angioplasty – a procedure to open blood vessels

The common name for PCTA is angioplasty.

How does heart disease affect your body?
Your heart is a muscle that needs a constant flow of oxygen-and-nutrient-rich blood to keep it healthy and functioning properly. Blood reaches your heart through two main coronary blood vessels (arteries). There is also a network of blood vessels covers the surface of the heart and supplies blood to the heart. Fatty deposits and cholesterol can form in your arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries. This narrowing is called atherosclerosis.

If your coronary arteries, which supply blood to your heart muscle, become too narrow, they cannot provide your heart with enough oxygenated blood. When your heart beats faster because of physical activity or psychological stress it needs more oxygen and nutrients. Your narrowed or sometimes blocked arteries cannot provide enough blood to the heart. This lack of oxygen can show up as angina (heart pain). In cases of prolonged pain you could have a heart attack.

So you can see, it is very important to diagnose and treat heart disease. You should know that you are at greater risk for heart disease if you:

  • are male
  • currently have high blood pressure or diabetes
  • are a smoker
  • are overweight
  • have a close relative with heart disease

One of the most common test for finding out if you have heart disease is the stress test (exercise electrocardiogram). You may also hear this test called an exercise treadmill test. This test measures changes in the electrical activity of your heart muscle as you do controlled exercise. The stress test may show if there has been damage to the heart. If the stress test is found to be abnormal, your doctor may want you to have a cardiac catheterization. A cardiac catheterization is the most definitive test for finding heart disease. During the catheterization, a special dye is injected into the coronary arteries. Your doctor will be able to see the dye in the arteries on x-ray pictures shown on a monitor. The x-rays will show any narrowing or blockage in the arteries. After catheterization your doctor will know how much heart disease you have. Your doctor will also know if you need a stent.

What is Angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a surgical procedure that opens blood vessels that have narrowed due to deposits of plaque. Angioplasty is done in a cardiac catheritization laboratory (cath lab). The cath lab is an x-ray room with a sterile environment much like that of an operating room. The surgeon makes a small cut usually in the arm or groin. Then a catheter with a tiny balloon on the end is placed into a blood vessel. The doctor then moves the catheter up through the body and into the coronary artery. During this process the doctor will watch the progress of the catheter on x-ray monitors. Once the catheter is placed across the blockage, the doctor slowly inflates the tiny balloon. As the balloon inflates it presses the fatty deposits (called atherosclerotic plaque) against the wall of the blood vessel. By compressing the plaque the inside (diameter) of the blood vessel gets bigger. This bigger vessel makes the blood flow more easily.

However, in about half of all successful angioplasty procedures, the plaque builds up again, causing the inside of the vessel to become smaller, or more narrow. This new build up is known as restenosis. To help reduce the chances of new build up and that narrowing will happen again, your surgeon may suggest placing a coronary stent inside the artery.

A coronary stent is a small device that provides support for a blood vessel. The stent is a small, stainless steel tube that is placed in your blood vessel. Stents can look like mesh or a small spiral wire (spring). The stent is inserted into the artery by using a balloon catheter after angioplasty. Once in the artery, the surgeon inflates the balloon. As the balloon inflates the stent expands and presses against the artery wall. The balloon is then deflated and removed. However, the stent remains expanded inside the artery and keeps the artery open.

The stent is now a permanent implant that remains in your artery and will help hold the artery open. Since is holds the blood vessel open it also improves blood flow. The improved blood flow should relieve your symptoms of heart disease.

Getting ready for angioplasty and the stent procedure
For several days before the procedure, you will be asked to take aspirin and other medicine given to you by your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor if you cannot take aspirin for any reason. It is also important to tell your doctor if you are presently taking any medication or if you have any drug allergies. The night before you have the procedure, you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight. Before the procedure begins, women will have a urinary catheter inserted into the bladder. Men may have an outside catheter applied. The urinary catheter will reduce the need for moving on and off a bedpan after the procedure. This will minimize stress to the puncture site. Other preoperative instructions will be given to you by your doctor or nurse. You should follow all instructions very carefully.

It is not necessary that you be put to sleep during the procedure. However, you may be given a mild drug to help you relax. The discomfort you feel should be fairly minimal and tolerable. If you need additional pain relief it can be given to you during the procedure. But your doctor will want you to remain as alert as possible so you can follow instructions from him. For example, he will tell you to breathe deeply when x-rays are being taken. Being able to do what the doctor says will improve the quality of the x-ray pictures.

During the angioplasty and stent procedure
Your procedure will be done in a room that is has special instruments. It will also have a special x-ray machine that has a monitor. The monitor looks like a TV screen and is called a fluoroscope. After you are brought into the room, you will be moved to the x-ray table. You will be covered with a sterile sheet. The place where the catheter is to be placed, usually the inside of your upper leg, will be washed with a special germ killing solution. A local pain killer will be injected at the site. The pain killer may sting for a few seconds. Then, a small tube called a sheath will be inserted into the vessel. A smaller plastic tube called a guiding catheter will be passed through the sheath until it gets to the vessels of the heart. A special dye will be injected through the guiding catheter. The dye will show up on the special monitor. The dye allows your doctor to see the veins and arteries in your body.

The monitor also allows the doctor to see the balloon catheter as it is moved forward through the blood vessel and into the right position. Next, a guidewire will be inserted through the guiding catheter and moved forward to the diseased vessel. Then the balloon catheter will be attached to the guidewire. The balloon will be moved to the site where the vessel is narrowed or blocked. After the balloon catheter has reached the area to be treated the catheter is pulled back a little. This will expose the first balloon. This balloon does not have the stent attached. Then the balloon will be inflated. As the balloon inflates it applies pressure to the plaque in the vessel. This pressure compresses the plaque and opens the artery. The artery stays open because the plaque is a waxy material and will hold its shape. Once the artery opens up the blood flow increases.

Your doctor will ask you to be very still during this procedure. For the most part you will be comfortable. However, you may experience a feeling of pressure when the balloon is inflated. This feeling is normal and will go away quickly.

Once the artery is opened the first balloon catheter will be taken out. The stent will be mounted on the end of a second balloon catheter. The stent is directed to the area that was previously blocked. The balloon and stent are carefully positioned in the correct spot. The balloon will be inflated causing the stent to expand. One or more stents may be expanded in the vessel. The number of stents you will need depends on the amount of heart disease you have. After all stents are in place, the balloon catheter will then be deflated and removed. The stent remains in place permanently and keeps the coronary artery open. The balloon angioplasty and stent implantation procedure usually lasts between 45 and 90 minutes.

Recovering in the hospital
After the procedure, you will usually be returned to an intermediate cardiac care unit or a medical cardiac care unit. If the sheath is still in place, it will be removed. Pressure will be applied to the puncture site until the bleeding has stopped. The nurses will watch your heart rhythm and blood pressure very closely. From time to time they will also check your puncture site for bleeding. After a short recovery period, you will be returned to your room. You may eat and drink. Your family will be allowed to visit. Be sure to drink all of the fluids that are given to you. The fluids will help to flush the special dye through your kidneys and out of your body.

For the first few days after receiving your stent, your activities will be restricted. You will be told that you must lie flat until the day after your procedure. You will not be allowed to bend the leg that has the puncture site. A soft restraint may be placed around your ankle. Don’t panic. This is only a gentle reminder that you are not to move or bend that leg. You must also take medication that will keep the blood flowing smoothly through your stent. Your blood will be tested frequently to see how quickly a clot will form. This is called the “clotting time”. By monitoring the clotting time the medication dosage can be regulated. Within a few days, your doctor will allow you to gradually increase your activities.

When you go home
Most people who have angioplasty and a stent implant usually stay in the hospital for three to eight days. When the doctor thinks you are ready, you will be discharged to the care of your family doctor. If you have any discomfort, pain, or bleeding of any kind after you get home, you should contact your family doctor or hospital right away.

At first, your doctor will want you to come see him often so he can watch and record your progress. After about six months, your doctor may ask you to have a follow-up stress test or cardiac catheterization. Eventually you will be able to return to your normal activities. Be sure to ask your doctor before you do anything that is physically strenuous.

Your stent will not limit your daily activities in any way. However, you should tell any doctor who treats you in the future that you have a coronary stent. A small wallet-sized card that has additional information about your stent will be given to you by the doctor who implants your stent or the nurse. Remember to keep your stent implant card with you at all times.

Special Medication
When you get home, you will be instructed to take special medication. Your doctor may also want you to make some lifestyle changes. It takes about 4 weeks for the lining of the vessel to grow over the stent. Once the vessel grows over the stent it will become a permanent part of the vessel wall. Until the blood vessel covers the stent you will be treated with anticoagulants (blood thinners). You will also take an antiplatelet drug. This drug will prevent blood clots from adhering to the surface of your stent until it is covered by your blood vessel. You will be asked to take the following medications for at least one month (the time it takes the blood vessel to grow over the stent). You may have to these drugs longer:

  • aspirin for preventing blood clots
  • an anticoagulant which also prevents blood clots
  • special medication for preventing blood clots

It is very important that you follow the medication regimen exactly as you are told. Do not stop taking any of the prescribed medications unless you are instructed to do so only by the physician who implanted your stent. If you have any side effects from the drugs, such as nausea, vomiting, or rash, you must notify your doctor immediately.

Diet and exercise
Your doctor will probably prescribe a controlled exercise program along with lifestyle changes. If you smoke, you will be encouraged to stop. If your cholesterol is high, you will be taught and encouraged to eat a healthier diet.

In addition to following the dietary suggestions from your doctor or dietitian, you should avoid eating too many foods that are high in vitamin K. These foods will decrease the effectiveness of the oral blood thinner that your are taking.

The action of a blood thinner can also be affected by antibiotics, some non-prescription medications, vitamins, a change in your eating habits, and especially alcohol consumption. As long as you are taking the anticoagulant, your doctor will probably do a weekly blood test to see how fast your blood is clotting. In the meantime, you should let your doctor know about any lifestyle changes that you make during this time. You should avoid having any dental work while you are taking a blood thinner. If emergency dental work is needed, be sure to tell your dentist that you are taking a blood thinner. You should carefully read over the information packet about the blood thinner given to you by your physician or nurse.

A final word
Because heart disease has been called a “silent disease”, you should have regular periodic examinations to check your progress. Always keep appointments with your doctor. You can reduce your risk of further heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Keep in mind thousands of people who have heart disease are leading healthy, productive lives after having coronary angioplasty and stent implantation. So can you!

Tags: heart disease, heart stent, angioplasty, ptca, surgeon

Exercise Tips for People with Heart Failure

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Unless your is severe, your doctor will probably have you do some or physical activity.  This may sound odd if you have heard you should rest often and not get tired.

The type of exercise you will do will keep your body strong, but not overwork your heart.  Before you start any type of exercise, be sure your doctor says it is OK.

Your doctor may have you in a cardiac rehab program.  This program can teach you how to exercise.  You will learn how to go through the exercises safely and gain confidence in how much you can do.

If your heart failure is stable and your doctor gives you an exercise program, then some moderate exercises can be very helpful.  Some moderate exercises are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a stationary bicycle
  • Swimming

Tips for Moderate Exercise

  • The best time to exercise is about 1 hour after eating or taking your medicines.
  • Stretch before you start and cool down after you exercise.
  • Stay away from hard exercises like running and lifting weights above 20 pounds.
  • Don’t exercise when it’s too hot or cold.  It’s best to exercise when the temperature is between 40º and 80º F and the humidity is low.
  • Start slowly and work up gradually.
  • Set goals you can reach without over working your heart.

If you have any chest pain, chest discomfort, shortness of breath that is not normal for you, dizziness or nausea, stop the exercise or physical activity.  Call your doctor if the symptoms don’t get better when you stop or you are worried about your well being.

Also, keep a record how tired you feel each day.  If you are too tired to get out of bed that day, or the day after you exercise, you need to cut down on how much exercise you are doing.

Tags: heart failure, exercise program, Dyspnea, heart disease, exercise

Guidelines for Managing Heart Failure

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

If you have just been diagnosed with , this information is for you. It will give you an idea of what you can to and what to expect while you are waiting to see a specialist. There are links to pages that will help you keep records so you can talk with your doctor.

Having heart failure isn’t always easy. But people can still live a full and happy life. Learning how to manage and control heart failure is very important in living a normal life. It is common to have lots of concerns about what you should do to manage heart failure. At the minimum, you should continue follow ups with your regular doctor, see a heart failure specialist and a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist), diet plays a very important part in controlling heart failure. If possible, attend a class at your local hospital or medical center about living with heart failure.

Steps for Managing Heart Failure

  • See your regular doctor on an ongoing basis and talk to your doctor about your treatment plan.
  • Keep all follow-up appointments with your doctors
  • See a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist) for help with meal planning,  weight loss or weight control
  • Take your medications exactly like the directions say.
  • Weigh yourself every day. Keep a written record of your weight.
  • Cut down your sodium (salt) intake in foods that you eat and medicines that you take.
  • Stay active. Make sure to balance rest with activity.
  • Ask your hospital if they offer a class for people with heart failure.
  • Get a flu shot every fall.
  • Get a pneumonia shot. Most people only need one.
  • If you smoke, STOP! Need help to quit?
  • Check your blood pressure every day and keep a record or your readings. Monitoring your blood pressure can help you keep it under control and prevent problems.
  • Sometimes people with a chronic health conditions become depressed. Finding out if you have depression and then treating it as important as treating other health conditions. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be depressed. Your doctor can ask you some questions to find out if you are having problems with depression.

General Guidelines for Cutting Down On Salt (Sodium)

  1. Avoid or greatly reduce the use of table salt.
  2. Avoid cured, salted, canned, or smoked meats.
  3. Avoid prepackaged dinners – diet or regular
  4. Avoid instant and prepared foods – potatoes, cereals, etc.
  5. Avoid high sodium condiments and sauces (check the ingredients and Nutrition Facts Labels for sodium).
  6. Avoid Snack foods with salted toppings.
  7. Use sparingly: Regular canned vegetables, processed cheese/cheese spreads, & regular peanut butter.
  8. Avoid high sodium, non-prescription medications like Baking soda, Bromoseltzer, Alka Seltzer, Fleets enema, Instant Metamucil Mix.

Beverages and Condiments – Avoid these foods:

  • A-1 sauce
  • V- 8 Juice, unless no salt
  • Celery, Garlic or Onion Salt
  • Sports drinks
  • Mustard
  • Catsup/Ketchup/Chili Sauce
  • Horseradish, prepared
  • Worchestershire Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Pickles/Pickle Relish
  • Olives
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Tomato Juice, unless no Salt
  • Barbecue Sauce

Gravies and Sauces – Avoid these foods:

  • Bouillon/Broth
  • Gravies, commercial
  • Meat Sock Sauces
  • Soups, canned and dehydrated
  • Meat Extracts
  • Soups, homemade, except low salt
  • Meat Tenderizers

Meats and Fats – Avoid these foods:

  • Bacon
  • Frankfurters, Hot Dogs – any type
  • Salt Pork/Fat Back
  • Kosher Meat
  • Streak O’lean
  • Luncheon Meats- like bologna, etc.
  • Sausage
  • Salted or Smoked Meats
  • Ham, cured or smoked
  • Canadian bacon
  • Fish, salted or dried, such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, cod, canned tuna, and salmon unless rinsed.

Snack Foods - Avoid these foods:

  • Breads, rolls and crackers with salted toppings
  • Caviar
  • Potato Chips, regular
  • Chitterlings
  • Pretzels
  • Peanut Butter type crackers
  • Nuts, salted
  • Saltines/Butter type crackers
  • Pork Rinds
  • Salted Popcorn

Read labels carefully. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, limit your salt (sodium) intake to 2,000 mg per day.

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Tags: Tomato Juice, Salt Barbecue Sauce, allergic reactions, heart disease, heart failure

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