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Managing Heart Failure

Successful management of Heart Failure requires watching water and salt intake and paying close attention to signals your body may provide that something is wrong.

Daily Weight

  • Weigh yourself every morning after you urinate and before you eat or drink anything.
  • Use the same scale and wear the same amount of clothing.
  • Write down your weight daily in a calendar.
  • Call your doctor if you have a weight gain of 3 pounds in 24 hours or 5 pounds in 2-3 days.

Low-Salt Eating

  • Do not use salt at the table or for cooking.
  • Read food labels to find out the milligrams (mg) of salt in one serving. Low salt means 140 mg or less per serving. Maintain sodium levels of less than 2,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid foods that are high in salt, such as canned items, processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, ham), pickles, soy sauce, prepackaged foods, fast foods.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about using salt substitutes.


  • Take your medicines as prescribed each day.
  • Carry a current list of your medications with you at all times.
  • Bring all your medications with you in their bottles in a bag to your Heart Failure Clinic appointment(s).
  • Avoid over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal/natural products unless approved by your healthcare provider.

Fluid Restriction

  • 2 liters / 2000 mL/64 ounces of fluid daily. This is equal to half a gallon, two quarts or eight 8-ounce glasses.
  • Include the amount of water needed to take your meds, and what you drink with meals.
  • Include the fluids in the foods you eat, particularly soups and broths.
  • Use had candies or ice chips in moderation for dry mouth throughout the day.
  • If you eat too much salt or drink too much fluid, your body’s water content may increase, making your heart work harder.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

  • Weight gain (see daily weight)
  • Shortness of breath that is new, becomes worse or occurs when you lie flat.
  • Cough that is new or worsening.
  • Swelling of feet, ankles or legs.
  • Feeling tired all of the time.
  • Dizziness

When to Call 911

  • Chest pain or discomfort