Top Ten tips for heart failure Patients
1. An increase of more than 2 kgs (4 pounds) may mean that you are retaining fluid. Weigh yourself at the same time every morning, on the same set of scales. This should be on a flat surface, not carpet, wearing minimal clothes and write it down.
2. Seek advice from your Heart Failure Nurse Specialist, Community Matron or GP if:
• Your weight increases by 3-4 pounds or 2 Kgs over 3-4 days
• You have new, increased or unusual swelling in your feet, ankles, legs or abdomen.
• You are waking at night coughing or feeling breathless.
• You are needing more pillows at night to help your breathing
• You are getting short of breath doing things that do not normally make you breathless
3. Drink enough fluid, ideally between 1.5 and 2 litres a day (3-4 pints) unless you have been told to restrict your intake. This is about 7-8 mugs of fluid a day.
4. Do not add salt to your food and avoid foods that have a high salt content. Do not use low salt or salt substitutes.
5. Never stop your tablets unless you are told to do so by your Nurse or Doctor. Do not run out of tablets.
6. Please bring all of your tablets with you to every clinic visit or hospital admission.
7. Have a blood test for kidney function a week after any dose or strength increases of your heart failure tablets. This does not apply to changes in dose of beta-blockers. If you are not sure how to organise this contact your Heart Failure Nurse Specialist, Community Nurse or GP.
8. Please arrange an annual flu vaccine with your Practice Nurse. We would also suggest a pneumococcal vaccine which can be arranged with your Practice Nurse.
9. Please advise your Heart Failure Nurse Specialist or Community Nurse if you are admitted to hospital.
10. If you require any further information please contact your Community Nurse
Authors: Nicky Buckley and Natalie Barber, Heart Failure Nurse Specialists