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A heart failure action plan gives you an easy way to check your symptoms and see changes. The plan also tells you when you need to get help. Your doctor may give you a plan, or you might create one together.
You'll use your plan every day. It takes the guesswork out of knowing when symptoms mean you should call your doctor or when you need to call for emergency help instead.
Keep a written copy of your plan where it's easy to find so you can see what to do if you notice a change. Share this plan with other people who can help you check for symptom changes and make decisions.
Your plan might use heart failure zones to help you check your symptoms and know what to do. Often, these types of plans are called zone checks, because they divide symptoms into three zones.
Heart failure zones give you an easy way to see changes in your heart failure symptoms. They also tell you when you need to get help. Check every day to see which zone you are in.
Green zone. You are doing well. This is where you want to be.
Yellow zone. Be careful. Your symptoms are changing. Call your doctor or nurse advice line.
Red zone. This is an emergency. Call 911.
You have symptoms of sudden heart failure. For example:
You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
If you have symptoms of a heart attack: After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
Most heart failure action plans include the following steps. Be sure to follow your plan and any instructions your doctor gives you. These steps can help you get started.
They can help you check for symptom changes and make decisions.
Do this at the same time each day. Record your weight. Some people keep a calendar by the scale and write their weight on it.
Symptoms include shortness of breath and swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs.
Try to take them at the same time every day.
Your doctor can tell you how much sodium is right for you. An example is less than 3,000 mg a day.
Also watch for signs that your heart is being stressed, and know when to stop and rest.
Your action plan will help you know if you are doing okay or if you need to call your doctor or call 911.
Talk to your doctor if you feel sad and hopeless much of the time or if you are worried and anxious. These may be signs of depression or anxiety. Treatment with counselling and medicine can help.
When you take charge of your health, you're more likely to feel better and keep your heart failure from getting worse.
Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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