Heart Failure: Getting the Care You Need
If you or a loved one has heart failure, you may have a lot of questions. What can
I expect from treatment? What can I do to manage the condition? What kind of care
will I need ? It's important to have an open and honest talk with your healthcare
provider about these concerns. These tips can help you make sure your needs are met.
It's important to ask your healthcare provider questions at your visit. This will
help make sure you understand your condition and treatment. It might help to bring
a list of questions with you. You can give the list to your healthcare provider. Or
use it to jog your memory during the visit. You may want answers to questions such
What's my diagnosis?
What's my heart function or ejection fraction?
Will my condition get worse?
What are the treatment options?
Will the treatment have side effects?
Why do I need this medicine?
Will my insurance cover the treatment?
How much will the treatment help me?
Will I be able to take care of myself in the weeks and months ahead?
What can I do to manage my condition?
Which activities can I do, and which should I avoid?
What are the signs and symptoms that my condition is worsening?
What should I do if I miss a dose of my medicine?
What do I need to do to better manage my diet?
When should I call for immediate medical attention?
Bring a notebook to write down the answers. Some people record the visit so that they
can listen again later. Don't be embarrassed to ask the healthcare provider to slow
down or repeat something. It's important that you clearly understand your treatment,
your medicines, and what you need to do to manage your condition.
Be open with your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider will also need some information from you. Tell your provider
about your symptoms and how you're feeling. It's key to let your provider know about
any changes or problems you have. Be frank about whether you've been able to follow
the diet, exercise, and other advice you've been given. Your healthcare provider needs
to know where you're having trouble so that he or she can help. Being honest with
your healthcare provider may help avoid trips to the hospital. Your provider also
needs to know about all the medicines you take. This includes those bought over-the-counter
as well as supplements. Bring a list with you. And if you are seeing more than one
healthcare provider, be sure that each one knows all the medicines prescribed for
Ask for a helping hand
Sometimes your routine can be a challenge. If it's hard going to and from medical
appointments, ask a family member to go with you. He or she can take notes, help you
remember questions, and learn how to help you at home. Your provider may give you
a referral to see a registered dietitian if you're having trouble sticking to your
diet. He or she will work with you to make meal plans, shopping lists, and recipes.
Your healthcare provider can also help you build an exercise plan geared toward your
abilities. There are heart failure support groups that are active in many communities
or online. These groups can provide advice and support with this diagnosis. Heart
failure teams also work along-side counselors, social workers, and mental health specialists
to help find the resources you need.
What you can do
There's a lot you can do at home to track your health. Your healthcare provider may
ask you to weigh yourself regularly. You'll need to keep a log of your weight, blood
pressure, and symptoms. You can track your blood pressure with an easy-to-use digital
monitor. Take your medicines as prescribed. If have trouble doing so, call your healthcare
provider. Never stop taking your medicines before talking with him or her. These steps
will help your provider judge how well your treatment is working.
Taking an active role in your health can have many benefits. The more you and your
healthcare provider know about your heart failure, the better treatment and care you'll