Provider with heart failure patient

I Just Found Out I Have Heart Failure. Now What?

MAY 01, 2021


“You have heart failure.”

First hearing those words brings a variety of responses, often beginning with anxiety and worry. That’s understandable. Learning that your heart is working inefficiently is a tough message to hear. But the good news is that you can take steps to manage your condition and feel better.

Self managing heart failure is essential.

Your health care provider probably recommended making immediate lifestyle changes to manage your heart failure symptoms. Taking medications at prescribed intervals, monitoring your sodium intake, your mood and your fluid intake and output are common practices you may be asked to make immediately.

Tracking all of these things is important for two reasons. First, you can be better informed about how your medication and diet regimens and choices are affecting your overall health. Second, you will have a record of these variables to share with your health care provider.

You are in control.

Heart failure means that your heart doesn’t work efficiently. But you’re not alone. (In fact, you are one of several million living with the diagnosis.) It does mean, however, that you’ll need to make some adjustments. One is managing your disease (as outlined above). Another is working with your family and friends as well as getting to know your medical team and collaborating with them. Keeping everyone informed and asking questions is essential to your quality of life and well being.

How you feel on a daily basis will have a lot to do with the medications you’re on, your diet and your exercise. But don’t forget about your mental health. Hobbies, laughter and love are also powerful medicines that we shouldn’t neglect. The voice in our head (also known as “self talk”) is powerful and can dramatically affect how we see the world and ourselves. Given the choice, would you rather be telling yourself “I have heart failure” or “my heart doesn’t pump efficiently”? They are both true, but the latter is far more hopeful and empowering.

It’s nice (and possibly life saving) to share.

Our founder, a heart failure nurse specialist, has helped scores of heart failure patients navigate through their fears, to help them live with and manage their disease. Her experiences and insights led to the creation of the Cormeum, the heart failure specific app that makes it easy to track your symptoms and (if desired) share your results with loved ones and/or your health provider.

Sharing those insights can help your health team adjust your medication dosages and frequencies or recommend other changes that can give you a better understanding of heart failure and your day to day status.

As always, if you experience chest pain, breathlessness during exertion or swelling of the feet and legs, talk to your health care provider as soon as possible.