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Congestive Heart Failure: Lifestyle Management

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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (12/1/2012).

There are several steps you can take in your own life to make your heart healthier and lessen the negative effects caused by congestive heart failure. Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your condition:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eat a diet that's low in salt, fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. These are the main components of food that make the heart work harder than it needs to, leading to excess fluid in the body, plaque buildup in the arteries and even heart disease. Vitamins and minerals are important for a healthy heart. One of the most important nutrients is potassium because some heart medications lead to a loss of potassium in the body. Low blood potassium can lead to irregular heart rates. All fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, with bananas, melons, beans, raisins, beets and potatoes being especially good sources.

  • Monitor salt intake

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can make the heart weaker.  

  • Lose weight. If you're overweight or obese, your heart must work harder. Losing weight can help ease a lot of stress placed on an overworked heart.

  • Exercise. Regular physical activity under the recommendations of your doctor can help build a strong heart and healthy lungs.

  • Stop smoking and avoid illegal drugs. Both smoking and illegal drugs can make the heart beat faster than normal and lower your overall health.

  • Get enough sleep.

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