Congestive Heart Failure: Dealing Day-to-Day

Almost a million people are hospitalized for heart failure each year in the United States alone. Many women who are hospitalized for heart failure can return to a modified version of their everyday routine within weeks or months, depending upon the severity of their condition. Regardless of the nature and severity of heart failure, each woman is encouraged to avoid physical and emotional stress as much as possible, rest often, avoid extreme temperatures and report to a doctor any symptom changes that may be a sign of fluid retention, such as weight gain. Although rest and avoiding physical stress is important, supervised exercise can be beneficial to some women with heart failure.

Nevertheless, heart failure is a serious condition. According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of men and 70 percent of women under age 65 who are diagnosed with heart failure will die within eight years. Chances of survival are based on the cause and severity of heart failure, as well as lifestyle changes that the patient chooses to make, such as taking all medications as instructed, eating a heart-healthy diet and quitting smoking.

The earlier the condition is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better your prospects for an improved quality of life down the road.

Most women are advised to make lifestyle changes, regardless of the severity of their condition. These may include modifying their diet, limiting salt intake, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, learning and practicing stress-management skills, quitting smoking, and getting regular exercise, depending on the severity of the illness.

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