Heart failure, as well as all the risks that accompany it, can be a terrifying prospect for any man, woman or child. The impact of a heart, the body’s central tool for survival, no longer functioning may seem like the beginning of the end. The good news is, by establishing an effective treatment plan with your cardiologist the prognosis, and the chances for you to lead a normal life, increase exponentially.
Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer efficiently pump blood throughout the body. The blood pools, and while organs are deprived of vital, life giving oxygen and nutrients the excess sodium that would normally be excreted in the urine builds up in the tissues, resulting in fluid retention that leads to organ stress and the dyspnea that is so common in cases of congestive heart failure. Left untreated, the oxygen deprived organs will eventually cease to function and the patient will die.
Fortunately, there are now many ways to combat the mortality factor associated with heart failure. Doctors can prescribe medications to facilitate the flow of blood through the body and take some of the pressure off the heart; blood thinners can decrease the chances of clots forming in the veins. Aside from medicinal means, there are many factors that may be altered in your lifestyle to impact the prognosis of your disease.
It is essential that the body be given sufficient time to rest in a day. While at rest the heart can more easily pump blood throughout the body; just as you would rest an injured leg when it began to pain you, you should rest your heart as well. On the flip side, it is important to establish a daily exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be three hours of aerobics; a half hour walk every day would have a greater impact on your physical being than nothing. Consult with your physician to find the plan that works best for your individual circumstances.
Along with an exercise plan you should work with your doctor to find the best diet plan for you. In most cases a low sodium diet is recommended to help reduce fluid retention. Diuretics can greatly affect the levels of potassium in the body causing hypokalemia, which can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis and a fatal cardiac arrhythmia; therefore, very often if you have been given a diuretic to take daily a potassium supplement will also be prescribed.
Nicotine can create a serious problem for patients with heart failure. It increases the heart rate and blood pressure while having a negative impact on the oxygen level in the blood. All of these things cause the heart to work harder. It is strongly recommended that if you have been diagnosed with heart failure you quit smoking completely.
Hand in hand with smoking are the inherent dangers associated with contracting a case of pneumonia or flu. If you are able you should receive an annual flu shot, as well as the one time dose of pneumococcal vaccine. This will provide some level of protection against pneumococci bacteria, the major cause of bacterial pneumonia. Pneumonia is a problem for the same reasons as smoking; the decreased oxygen levels in the blood cause the heart to work harder in an attempt to compensate and get oxygen to the organs and tissues. If possible, avoid crowded areas during cold and flu season, and stay away from people you know are sick.
Amazingly, something as simple as the clothes you wear can impact your condition if you have suffered heart failure. Tight clothing can cause blood clots and restrict blood flow to the extremities. In addition, in cases of extreme temperature your clothes should be weather appropriate; if the body has to work to maintain its temperature the heart will have to work that much harder.
Sexual relations can usually be continued as before; however, they should occur in as peaceful an environment as possible to prevent undue stress. If your condition is severe it is important that you discuss this with your physician; it may be necessary to forego sexual relations for a time in favor of other, less stressful shows of affection.
Each of these steps will help you continue to live much as you did before being diagnosed. Heart failure will inevitably impact your life; it is entirely up to you how much.
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Content: PLR, Image: Pixabay