Ways to Prevent CHF
It’s important to prevent congestive heart failure (CHF)the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart failure contributed to 1 in 9 deaths in the United States in 2009. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the earlier you begin taking steps to prevent heart failure, the better your chances of avoiding or delaying the onset of CHF.
If your heart is healthy and you don’t have an increased risk for developing heart failure or heart disease, talk to your health care provider about ways to keep your risk low. The NIH recommends the following:
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins and low in sodium (salt), added sugar, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight or obese, work with your health care provider to develop a healthy weight loss program.
- Get regular physical activity. Talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program and about your fitness goals. Start slowlyas few as 60 minutes of aerobic activity a week can be beneficial.
- Get enough sleep. A study published in 2013 showed that people with multiple insomnia symptoms had an increased risk for heart failure compared with people without symptoms of insomnia.
- Avoid illegal drugs.
People who are at increased risk for heart failurefor example, those with chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), or diabetesalso can take steps to reduce their risk for developing congestive heart failure. According to the NIH:
- Talk to your health care provider and follow the steps above (for those with healthy hearts and low or average risk).
- Avoid alcohol.
- See your health care provider regularly. Take all medications as directed and follow his or her recommendations and instructions closely.
If you have heart damage, it's especially important to take all medications exactly as prescribed to reduce your heart failure risk. Contact your health care provider immediately if you develop symptoms of heart failure.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)