Welcome to talkaboutheartfailure.com. Cardiovascular disease has been and remains the leading cause of death in the United States and other developed countries, for both men and women. Heart failure develops as a response to all of the conditions, either acute as in myocardial infarction or chronic as in hypertension, that damage the heart’s muscle during one’s lifetime. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with heart failure, please join our ongoing conversations related to just about every aspect of this long-term, complex health problem.
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Heart failure is an increasingly prevalent cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world, with approximately 23 million people affected worldwide. Heart failure impacts multiple areas of everyday living.
Whether you are newly diagnosed with heart failure or a long-time fighter, share your thoughts and advice on living with heart failure. Share stories of hope and inspiration.
What are your concerns about living with heart failure?
What are your short- and long-term goals? What are your plans for achieving those goals and overcoming the challenges to reaching those goals?
Self-care has been recognized as a crucial component of the successful management of heart failure. Several investigations have revealed that patients who adhere to more effective self-care have lower mortality and heart failure-related hospital readmission rates than those who report poor self-care behavior.1;2 The self-care behaviors that physicians regularly advise heart failure patients to undertake include:
becoming knowledgeable about heart failure,3;4
monitoring daily weights,5
monitoring for swelling and other signs and symptoms,5
exercising as recommended,3;5
taking their prescribed medications,5
following a low-sodium diet as well as a heart healthy diet,5
maintaining fluid restrictions,5
advise your doctor or nurse about any sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing,5
avoiding illness by getting yearly vaccinations (especially influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae) and taking preventive actions such as stopping smoking and limiting alcohol intake,5
communicating with healthcare providers on a regular basis.3
Weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of heart failure as well as a warning sign of worsening patient condition. Fewer than half of patients with heart failure report weighing themselves on a daily basis. Of those who do monitor their weight, at least on an irregular basis, few consider weight gain to be a significant problem. Failure to weigh may be a consequence of the misunderstanding that daily weighing is aimed at monitoring gains in adipose tissue rather than fluid status. It may also be due to the patient’s inability to recognize the association between weight gain and other signs and symptoms, such as difficulty with breathing or swelling of the extremities.5
Do you weigh yourself everyday? If you gain 2 kg (approximately 4.4 pounds) in a single week, do you notify a hospital, your doctor or nurse?
Low physical activity is associated with hypertension, dyslipidemia, altered glucose metabolism and weight gain.
Do you participate in a supervised exercise program?
Have you been able to increase your strength and endurance?
How do you deal with symptoms that arise with activity?
Have you been able to resume your customary activities (e.g. job, travel, gardening, etc.)?
Numerous studies have demonstrated that poor medication adherence is associated with increased all-cause and heart failure-related morbidity and mortality.6 Reasons given by patients for poor medication adherence include a lack of understanding about discharge instructions, confusion over apparently conflicting instructions given by different physicians, cost of prescription drugs, not being convinced of the need for the medication, and concerns about the side effects associated with the drug.5
Do you take your medications as prescribed? How do you incorporate medication taking into your daily activities? What challenges do you face in adhering to your medication regimen?
Are you able to distinguish between side effects, adverse effects and normal effects?
Do you maintain a written record of all medications you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements?
Recent reform in the U.S. health care systems along with more individuals worldwide being diagnosed with long-term, complex health problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart failure, means that more patients are being cared for at home by family members. Support from an individual’s family and social network is vitally important to effective chronic illness care and improved patient outcomes.
What family and caregiver characteristics are most important to you in the successful management of your heart failure?
Clinical trials, research and news. Share the findings of articles you have researched, your interpretations, and experiences. Let the community know how these studies have influenced the course of your illness.
Heart Healthy Recipes – A place to share your healthiest
1. Dunbar SBR, Clark PCR, Quinn CR, Gary RAR, Kaslow NJP. Family Influences on Heart Failure Self-care and Outcomes. [Article]. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 2008;23:258-265.
2. Kato N, Kinugawa K, Nakayama E et al. Insufficient Self-Care Is an Independent Risk Factor for Adverse Clinical Outcomes in Japanese Patients With Heart Failure. International Heart Journal 2013;54:382-389.
3. Moser D, Dickson V, Jaarsma T et al. Role of Self-Care in the Patient with Heart Failure. Curr Cardiol Rep 2012;14:265-275.
4. Veroff D, Sullivan L, Shoptaw EJ et al. Improving Self-Care for Heart Failure for Seniors: The Impact of Video and Written Education and Decision Aids. Population Health Management 2012;15:37-45.
5. Riegel B, Moser DK, Anker SD et al. State of the Science. Circulation 2009;120:1141-1163.
6. Wu JR, DeWalt DA, Baker DW et al. A single-item self-report medication adherence question predicts hospitalisation and death in patients with heart failure. J Clin Nurs 2013n/a.