People who have heart failure can be active and enjoy life.
Daily activities. If you
heart failure, you may find that your symptoms make it
difficult to do things like cook, clean, bathe, or shop. You can deal with
these limitations in various ways. For example, you can rearrange your kitchen
to make cooking easier or put a stool in your shower so that you can sit down.
You can also get help from other people. Housekeeping services will clean your
house and other services will deliver groceries and other goods to your home.
You may also have friends or family members who can help you with some of the
day-to-day activities that are difficult for you.
Exercise. In general, it is important to keep as physically
fit as possible. Moderate aerobic exercise is not only safe but advisable for
people with heart failure. Moderate exercise such as walking, climbing stairs,
or swimming can help keep you fit. Intense exercise, including weight-lifting
and exercises that require you to push against a heavy resistance (like
push-ups), are not safe for people with heart failure; these types of exercises
can raise your blood pressure and make your heart work harder. You should avoid
activities that involve sudden physical exertions that make your heart work a
lot harder than it does when you are resting.
program you begin should advance gradually. You should discuss the details of
your program with your doctor. Your doctor can help you with the type and
degree of exercise that is safe for you.
Sex. Most people with heart failure can still have an active sex life. You can ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sex. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns or if you have heart failure symptoms during sex.
people with heart failure can safely drive a car. However, you should not drive
if you are experiencing confusion or taking prescription pain drugs. If you
have had a serious arrhythmia or have ever fainted as a result of your heart
failure, you should talk with your doctor about your ability to drive.
Travel. In general, all forms of travel are safe
for people with mild to moderate heart failure. Always carry the names and
phone numbers of your doctors in case you become ill while you're away from
home. You may also want to carry a list of your major medical problems and
hospitalizations and an up-to-date list of your drugs (including both the names
and dosages), in case you must be hospitalized in an unfamiliar hospital. You
should bring a supply of drugs for several days longer than your intended trip
to make sure that you do not run out.
If you have severe heart failure, you can talk with your doctor before a trip to make sure you know how to prevent problems and stay healthy.
Work. Many people who have heart failure can continue
to work full time for many years. Your situation will depend on the
cause and severity of your heart failure as well as the demands of your job.
Your doctor may help you decide the appropriate level of work you can do. Your
doctor may order a stress test to help evaluate the endurance of your heart.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.