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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care for heart failure

Heart failure manThere are lots of ways that you can look after yourself if you have heart failure.

Do daily checks and have a heart failure action plan

This normally includes checking your weight, checking for swelling and watching for changes in your breathing.

Weighing yourself is one way of picking up if you're holding on to excess fluid. If your weight increases over just a few days, this will be from extra water, not fat. It's best to weigh yourself every morning at the same time (after you've been to the toilet, before you eat or drink anything and before you get dressed). Use digital scales and use them on a firm surface. For example, lino or tiles.

Your doctor or nurse will help you work out a target weight, which is when you have no extra fluid and your heart can work the best.

Ask your nurse of doctor to give you a Heart failure action plan to record your daily checks and give advice on what to do if there are changes.

Take your medication regularly

As heart failure is a long-term condition, you'll need to keep taking medication even when you're feeling better. This can be a nuisance, particularly taking diuretics which can make you need to pass wee (urine) more often.

If you're having problems taking your medicine, talk to your doctor or nurse about ways of making it easier for you. For instance, you may be able to take your pills later in the day if you have to go to a morning event.

Your heart failure action plan can tell you how to change your medication depending on the amount of fluid your body is holding on to.

Lifestyle changes

Financial support

For information about funding that your GP might be able to use to reduce the cost of your health care, see Funding schemes at your general practice. See Financial support in palliative care for information on benefits available to people who have severe heart failure and are being treated palliatively.

To find out about the disability allowance benefit, see Disability allowance.

Transport and parking has information about mobility parking permits, the Total Mobility half-price taxi scheme, and other transport options.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.

See also:

Acute plans

Page reference: 51982

Review key: HIHFA-27478