Heart failure is also known as congestive heart failure, and it’s a global pandemic affecting at least 26 million people worldwide, this number continues to increase due to aging as well as improved treatment of acute cardiovascular events. About 5.7 million adults in the United States have experienced heart failure, and it is estimated that by 2030 more than 8 million people will have this condition.
Heart failure can be caused by coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy (due to infections or alcohol or drug abuse), valve disease, thyroid disease, kidney disease, smoking, drinking alcohol, diabetes, HIV, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, heart defects, and obesity, among other causes.
Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to support other organs in the body, and as a result, those organs start failing. Heart failure symptoms may vary, and it depends if heart failure is dominant in the right or left side. When heart failure is primarily left-sided, shortness of breath is predominant and may occur when lying flat, causing the person to have to sleep propped up in bed or sitting in a chair. If right-sided heart failure is stronger, fluid may back up into your abdomen, legs and feet, causing swelling.
Some patients are at risk for nutrient deficiencies due to drug-nutrient interactions (such as B complex, magnesium, and potassium) and may experience difficulty eating due to nausea and early satiety from gut/liver edema, depression, use of multiple medications. This may lead to cardiac cachexia, a complex metabolic state characterized by progressive weight loss, muscle wasting, fatigue, and weakness.
Heart failure diagnoses require a well-documented medical history, blood test, Chest X-rays, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and stress test, among other tests. Medical treatment consists of medications and procedures to limit heart damage and reverse some symptoms. Non-pharmacologic therapies include restriction of salt and liquids to control acute symptoms, limit progression and reduce overall work of the heart. Your doctor will let you know the degree of restriction of sodium and fluids. In some cases, physical activity may be indicated, but it must be done with the doctor’s approval and under strict supervision.
Below are some dietetic recommendations that may help you manage heart failure, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Dietetic recommendations to limit salt intake:
In general, start with a restriction of 2000 milligrams of sodium. However, adjustments must be done according to your individual response to the dietetic restrictions.
Dietetic recommendations to restrict fluids:
Patients with heart failure are often routinely advised to limit their fluid intake to 1500 milliliters a day (or less). Ask your doctor how much fluid you can have.
Tips to reduce your thirst:
Monitor your weight:
Have a wonderful weekend!
Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN