Harvard Heart Letter

Avoiding fluid overload if you have heart failure



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Learn ways to limit liquids without feeling too thirsty.

If your heart is weakened by heart failure, your kidneys may not get enough blood to work as well as they should. As a result, your body retains salt and water in a misguided attempt to boost your blood volume. That causes fluid to build up throughout the body, leading to the classic heart failure symptoms of weight gain, swollen ankles or feet, and shortness of breath.

Limiting your liquids helps counteract this problem. But following that advice is a little trickier than you might think.

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