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Moving forward: How to live your best with heart failure

Anthony Fritz, MDHeart failure. Hearing those words from your doctor can be quite a shock.

Heart failure is a serious, lifelong disease, but Anthony Fritz, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Arbor Health, Morton Clinic says there is reason to have hope. "This is a disease you can do something about," he states. "You can learn to manage heart failure so you can feel better and stay healthier longer."

Dr. Fritz goes on to explain that heart failure doesn't mean that your heart is about to stop working. It means your heart has become weaker and unable to pump enough blood as well as it should. As a result, you might feel tired and short of breath.

Take control of your health

Heart failure can't usually be cured, but it can be managed with your doctor's help. Here are some ways to do that:

Monitor your symptoms. Find out from your doctor about changes that could signal your heart failure is getting worse and what to do if you notice them. Taking immediate action could help you avoid a heart failure flare-up.

Some warning signs include:

  • Swelling of the feet, legs, ankles or abdomen.
  • Sudden weight gain—weigh yourself every morning.
  • Increased tiredness.
  • More shortness of breath.
  • Trouble breathing while lying down, which may make it hard to sleep.

Take your medicines exactly as directed. People with heart failure may be prescribed different types of medicines. They can help you if you take them correctly. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Eat a variety of healthy foods. Do your best to eat the heart-healthy foods your health care team recommends—such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, skinless poultry, fish, nuts and beans. But you'll want to limit sodium, cholesterol and saturated fats. Comparing food labels when you shop will help you do that.

Stay active. Consult your doctor about what types and amounts of exercise are safe and good for you.

If you smoke, stop. Ask your doctor for help if you're struggling to quit.

Stay up to date on flu and pneumonia shots. Heart failure makes you particularly prone to complications from infections.

Keep your stress in check. Make time for relaxing activities that you enjoy. Tell your care team if you feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed.

Ask for help. Seek support from your family and your care team when you need it. You can do this—but you don't have to do it alone.

Categories: Heart health

Get heart healthy

Board-certified internal medicine specialist Anthony Fritz, MD, sees patients at Arbor Health, Morton Clinic. For an appointment, call 360.496.5145.


Monitoring heart failure