Harvard Heart Letter

A personal approach to heart failure

Following a self-care plan can keep you healthy and out of the hospital.

If you are one of the six million Americans living with heart failure, or if you are caring for someone with it, you know that managing heart failure goes far beyond taking a pill every day. It requires a coordinated approach to everything from taking medications to weighing yourself daily.

Your doctor can help, but face it — you are with him or her for only a few minutes a month. You're on your own 99.9% of the time, making big and small decisions about what to eat, when to exercise, how much to rest, and whether changes in your body signal a worsening of your condition. A strategy that health care professionals call self-care can help you be active, feel okay, and stay out of the hospital. Poor self-care is a big reason why there are more than one million hospitalizations for heart failure each year.

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