If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart failure, you
probably have a lot of questions. What can I expect from treatment? What
can I do to manage the condition? What kind of care will be needed in
the future? It's important to have an open and honest discussion with
your health care provider about these concerns. These tips can help you
make sure your needs are met.
It's important to ask your provider questions during your visit to make
sure you understand your condition and what your treatment involves. If
you're uncomfortable doing so, it might help to bring a list of
questions with you. You can give the list to your provider or use it to
jog your memory during the visit. You'll probably want answers to
questions such as these:
What is my diagnosis?
How serious is my condition?
What is 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 medication?
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
What can I do to manage my condition?
Which activities can I do, and which should I avoid?
Bring a notebook to write down the answers. Some people bring a tape
recorder so that they can listen again to their provider's instructions
later. Don't be embarrassed to ask the provider to slow down or repeat
something. It's important that you clearly understand your treatment,
your medications and what you need to do to manage your condition.
Your provider will also need some important information from you. Tell
your provider about your symptoms and how you're feeling. It's
especially important to let your provider know about any changes or
problems you've experienced. Be frank about whether you've been able to
follow the diet, exercise and other advice you've been given. Your
provider needs to know where you're having difficulty so that he or she
can help. Your provider also needs to know about all the medications you
take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, so bring a list
with you. And if you are seeing more than one provider, be sure that
each one knows all the medications prescribed for you.
Sometimes your regular routine can seem challenging. If it's exhausting
going to and from medical appointments, ask a family member to come with
you. He or she can take notes, help you remember questions to ask 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 following a
low-salt, low-fat diet. He or she will work with you to develop meal
plans, shopping lists and recipes with your favorite foods. Your
provider can also help you develop an exercise routine geared toward
There's a lot you can do at home to monitor your health. Your provider
may ask you to weigh yourself regularly and 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 medications as prescribed. If you
are having trouble doing so, contact your provider. Never stop taking
your medications before talking with him or her. These practices will
help your provider evaluate how well your treatment is working.
Taking an active role in your health can have many benefits. The more
you and your provider know about your heart failure, the better
treatment and care you'll receive for your condition.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.