When you have heart failure, sometimes your symptoms get worse. Certain behaviors or “triggers” are usually the cause.
There are common triggers — like skipping a dose of medicine or eating too much salt — but they don’t affect everyone in the same way. Some triggers affect some people more than others.
But the result of the trigger can be the same: Your heart has a harder time doing its job and fluid can build up in your body. As a result, your symptoms worsen.
Here are some of the most common triggers that can cause your heart failure to worsen. Remember, not everyone with heart failure reacts to the same triggers. It’s important to figure out what affects you.
- Too much salt: Too much salt causes your body to hold on to water. Follow a heart-healthy diet and talk to your doctor about lowering your salt intake.
- Not taking your meds as prescribed: Chances are, you’re taking more than one medication. It can be easy to miss a dose, but even one missed dose can trigger your symptoms. Keep track of what heart failure meds you’re on.
- Some medicines or supplements: There are some meds or supplements that actually act as a trigger. Talk with your doctor before taking any meds or supplements that haven’t been prescribed to you.
- High blood pressure: When your blood pressure runs high, it puts stress on your heart. Getting enough sleep and managing stress levels can help. A heart-healthy diet, exercise, and meds can also help with lowering your blood pressure.
- Heart rhythm troubles: When your heart goes out of rhythm — like atrial fibrillation, for example — it can make it harder for your heart to do its job efficiently. Rhythm troubles can be a trigger, or, conversely, a trigger can cause rhythm troubles. Monitoring your symptoms and heart rate or rhythm is a way to stay on track.
4 Steps to Avoiding Your Triggers
- Keep a regular schedule. Try to eat, exercise, and take your meds at the same time every day.
- Weigh yourself and check your blood pressure every day unless your doctor has told you otherwise. This will help you stay on top of any issues.
- Monitor your symptoms closely. You know your body. Keep track of any triggers that may be linked to what you’re feeling.
- Avoid the common triggers like eating too much salt, missing doses of meds, or even overexercising.
Having heart failure can feel overwhelming at times. So focus on what you can control in your day-to-day. Knowing and avoiding your triggers is an important piece of the puzzle in managing your condition.