Adjusting your Lifestyle with Heart Failure

In addition to taking your medication correctly, making diet changes, and exercising, there are other lifestyle changes that may improve your health and help you feel your best.

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Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking has many health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart attack. Nicotine puts the heart under stress and can seriously worsen heart failure symptoms. While quitting is not easy, your doctor can provide tools and resources, as well as support programs that will help you stay on track. Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, inhalers, and medications are all available to help you quit, along with local support groups. The benefits of quitting are worth the hard work.

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Emotional Support and Stress Reduction

Overall emotional support and stress management are also important factors in feeling well. Your family and friends can provide a support network, but if you need to talk to others who understand what you are going through, a heart failure support group could be helpful. You should recognize the emotions you are feeling and have people you can talk to about these emotions. Openly discussing your feelings can help manage the stress that may come with living with heart failure. Other ideas for reducing stress include taking a walk, sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, or listening to music.

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Intimacy

You may have questions or be worried about intimacy. Don’t be afraid to bring these up with your doctor. You can still enjoy an intimate relationship with a spouse or partner, and you can continue to be sexually active. Consider making sure you are rested, using positions that require less energy, and paying attention to how fatigued or short of breath you are. Heart failure may cause some troubles with becoming aroused. Speak to your doctor, as there are medications that can help both men and women with this problem.