Fill out an action plan like Heart failure: more than just the heart to develop and review with your GP. regularly. This summarises the most important parts of your current heart failure treatment and can remind you of some of the changes you may need to make over time.
I have been feeling down since my heart failure diagnosis, who can I speak to?
If you’ve recently been told you or a loved one has heart failure, you may be overwhelmed with emotions. You might be sad, angry, anxious, lonely or confused. This is all normal.
Find someone to talk to. It could be someone in your healthcare team, a family member, or a friend. Keep active and maintain your connection with family and friends. There are many people and organisations who can give you support.
your GP, who can offer you choices based on your individual mental health needs
the Heart Foundation’s Helpline, which offers free, personalised advice and support from a qualified health professional by calling 13 11 12 during business hours.
Do I need to reduce the amount of fluid in my food and drink?
Yes. When you have heart failure, your heart doesn’t pump properly, and this can cause fluid to build up in your body. This can make you weigh more and make your ankles, legs or other parts of your body swell up.
It is important to recognise when fluid in your body is building up so you can do something early. To manage your fluid, talk to your nurse, doctor or health professional about how much fluid you can have each day.
You will need to monitor the amount of fluid in both your food and drink to reduce the likelihood of having fluid build-up. Your doctor will advise how much fluid you can have each day.
A fluid is considered to be a food or drink that is liquid at room temperature. As well as being aware of the fluid in your drinks, you also need to be aware of fluids in:
fruits such as watermelon or grapes
ice creams, sorbets, gelatos and ice blocks
savoury foods with a lot of liquid, like soup.
There are other ways to reduce your fluid intake.
Avoid food that is salty or spicy, because it will make you thirsty.
Drink cold, instead of hot, drinks to feel refreshed.
Plan ahead so that you can have small amounts of fluids, regularly throughout the day.
Do I need to have less salt?
Yes, people with heart failure need to monitor the amount of salt in their diet. This is because salt makes your body hold onto fluid, which can cause a fluid build-up.
The Heart Foundation recommends 5 g of salt (2000 mg sodium) as a daily maximum amount, which is about a teaspoon.
On food labels, salt is listed as sodium and 5 g of salt contains 2000 mg of sodium. When reading food labels, look for foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per 100 grams. Ideally, people with heart failure should eat foods with less than 120 mg of sodium per 100 grams.
You might find it helpful to speak to a dietitian about lowering salt or making other changes to your diet. The names of registered dietitians can be found on the Dietitians Australia website. Ask your GP to refer you to a dietitian as this may allow you to claim some money back from the cost of a consultation.
What kind of physical activity is suitable for me?
Regular physical activity will help your heart get stronger and make you less tired. Before you start, talk to your nurse, doctor or other health professional about the kind of movement and physical activity that you can do regularly to improve your health.
Understand the type of physical activity that is safe for you and how you could gradually increase the amount of movement you do over time.
understand when the person you are looking after needs medical attention.
know when you need support and where to get it. You can call the Heart Foundation’s free service Helpline and speak to a qualified health professional who can provide you with advice and support about the person you are caring for by calling 13 11 12 during business hours.