What Is It Really Like Living With Heart Failure?

Are you concerned about living with heart failure and all it entails?

If you’ve been prescribed heart failure medication, then you should know what living with heart failure entails so you can take steps to ensure you are safe during this period of your life. Continue reading to find out more about the realities and how to stay healthy and safe.

Let’s keep you on the right healthy track!

Shortness of Breath

Living with heart failure can be quite difficult due to the various symptoms it causes. One of the primary symptoms is shortness of breath. This symptom can range from a merely uncomfortable sensation to severe breathlessness.

Shortness of breath often occurs due to the heart being unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can cause a lack of oxygen in the body, making breathing a difficult struggle. With heart failure, shortness of breath can become more severe during physical activity or even while lying down.

Even simply lifting one’s head off the pillow can suddenly leave them gasping for breath. This can cause fear in the sufferer and can often lead to feelings of anxiety. Thankfully, treatments such as cardiac rehabilitation, medications, and lifestyle changes can improve the symptoms caused by heart failure.

Sensitive to Fatigue

Living with heart failure can be incredibly exhausting, as this condition is often associated with being especially sensitive to fatigue. Because of this, everyday activities such as climbing stairs, walking to the store, or carrying heavy items can easily become draining activities.

Since the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body, completing these tasks can quickly lead to a feeling of extreme fatigue throughout the body, even after the most minor of exertion.

It is important for those living with heart failure to learn the warning signs of fatigue and to be aware of the energy that activities can consume. While utilizing an understanding and intuition of heart failure and fatigue, daily activities can be completed with less fuss and with greater ease.

Swelling and Fluid Build Up

Swelling and fluid build-up is serious and sometimes debilitating. Heart failure can cause swelling in the:

  • legs
  • feet
  • hands
  • arms

These often cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty walking or even standing. The fluid buildup can put pressure on internal organs and make everyday activities difficult to accomplish and exhaust the individual quickly. It is often recommended to seek medical advice as soon as possible and follow a heart failure treatment plan prescribed by a doctor to help reduce the swelling and manage the condition.

Difficulty Sleeping

One of the most challenging for many individuals is difficulty sleeping. Having heart failure can bring on high amounts of stress and anxiety which can lead to insomnia. Additionally, the constant fluctuations in heart rate can prevent a good night’s rest.

Difficulties with sleeping can make people more fatigued during the day, lead to greater difficulties exercising and make it even more difficult to manage other symptoms. It can also be difficult to stick to a good sleep schedule, as things that should be done at night like eating dinner or taking medications can affect the rest of the night.

Taking the right steps like going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding activities that can cause stress or agitation, and trying to practice relaxation techniques can help individuals with heart failure establish a better quality of sleep.

Reduced Ability to Exercise

For many, ongoing physical activity is a vital part of self-care, stress management, and socializing. So the prospect of having to reduce how often and how much they exercise can take away some of the pleasure of staying active. The lack of exercise can create physical and emotional impacts such as:

  • reduced strength and endurance
  • mental health issues
  • low mood
  • anxiety
  • fatigue

In addition, the inability to participate in social activities or engage in physical activity with others can make it harder to feel connected to family and friends, adding to feelings of loneliness. Heart failure can be a very difficult and isolating condition, so it is important to talk to a doctor about exercise plans and strategies to manage the reduced ability to exercise.

Need for Medications

In addition to the physical and psychological stresses that come with dealing with a serious illness, managing heart failure often requires taking numerous medications. This adds to the stress of having to remember to take the medications. Not to forget worrying about potential side effects.

In addition, there are often difficulties in finding the correct balance between the various medications and dosages. This is because medications may interact with one another, making it hard to get the dosages right.

While medications can provide helpful relief and improve the quality of life, it is important to remember that they are not a cure and one needs to continue to manage the illness in other ways. Living with heart failure can be a profound challenge, but being attentive to one’s body and taking the right medications can lead to better results and improved quality of life.

Frequent Doctor Visits

Living with heart failure requires a lot of frequent doctor visits. These visits can be incredibly exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Sitting in the doctor’s office or waiting for test results can be grueling.

It can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. This is because the result of the tests can determine how well heart failure is being managed. The visits will usually consist of:

  • checking for treatment responses
  • finding out how the medication is working
  • determining if any treatment plans be changed

Frequent doctor visits can also be difficult to manage alongside work and other priorities. Finding the right balance between all of the doctor visits, managing the heart failure, and still having time for other commitments is a challenge. However, it is essential to ensure the best quality of life with heart failure as compared to one with a healthy heart.

Understand How Living With Heart Failure Is

Having heart failure can be overwhelming and difficult, but understanding what it is and managing it with the help of your doctor can make it livable. Patients should make sure they understand their medications, diet, and lifestyle changes and actively participate in their treatment.

Do not be afraid to reach out for help and remember that knowledge is power when living with heart failure. Talk to your doctor to find the best treatment plan for your case.

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