Heart Failure: Avoiding Triggers for Sudden Heart Failure
Sudden heart failure can be prevented by avoiding the triggers that cause it. Not all people are sensitive to or react to the same triggers. What may cause sudden heart failure in one person may not cause another person any difficulty. To avoid sudden heart failure:
- Pay attention to your symptoms. Changes in your weight, difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, and swelling (usually first noticed in the feet and legs) may be signs that your heart failure is getting worse.
- Keep your diet, exercise, and medicine routine as close to the same schedule as possible.
- Avoid things that you know can trigger heart failure, such as eating too much salt.
Watch for signs of sudden heart failure.
- Track your symptoms. As you live with your heart condition, become familiar with changes in how you feel, and let your doctor know if your heart condition is getting worse. Keeping a record of your symptoms (What is a PDF document?) can help.
- Weigh yourself every day before breakfast. A sudden weight gain, such as 3 lb (1.4 kg) or more in 2 to 3 days, could signal the beginning of sudden heart failure.
- Know the signs of sudden heart failure. Post a list of the symptoms where you can refer to it as needed, and keep a copy in your wallet. Make sure your friends and family know the symptoms. If you have symptoms of sudden heart failure, seek emergency help immediately.
Avoid your triggers
Talk with your doctor about the following possible triggers. If these are triggers for you, use the suggestions to help you avoid them.
- Is eating too much sodium a trigger for you? Too much sodium is a common trigger for sudden heart failure. Be aware of how much sodium you are consuming. Your doctor might recommend that you not eat or drink more than 2 g (2000 mg) of sodium in your diet each day. Know how to find out how much sodium is in your foods and liquids. Ready-to-eat and canned foods tend to have more sodium. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Talk with your doctor before taking any medicines that you can buy without a prescription. Many contain sodium.
- Is overexercising a trigger for you? When you exercise, watch for signs that your heart is being stressed. If you become out of breath, have chest pain, or become dizzy, stop exercising. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to slow down, decrease your time, or avoid those activities.
- Is not taking medicines properly a trigger for you? It is important to take all your medicines and to take them at the times you and your doctor decided upon.
Last Revised: August 13, 2013
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