Heart failure is the top cause of hospital admissions for Medicare patients, and 25% of them are re-admitted within the first 30 days of going home. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes damaged, and then too weak to circulate fluids through the body, resulting in swelling, fluid build-up in the lungs and impaired kidney function. Heart failure has a devastating effect physically and financially, and can be fatal.
It is well known that diet has a major impact on the development of heart disease of all types. It is possible to avoid the development of heart disease and heart failure by following a healthy diet. If you already have heart disease or heart failure, you can help to prevent future episodes. Be sure to follow medical advice and have regular check-ups. Following these general nutritional tips will help prevent heart failure.
- Sodium – Sodium contributes to the retention of fluid in the body. The typical Western diet contains almost twice as much sodium as the body needs. For those with healthy hearts, no more than six grams of sodium per day is recommended. If you are already affected by heart disease, ask your doctor for your recommended allowance.
- Fats – A high fat diet leads to plaque build-up in the vessels and can lead to heart attack, especially when it consists saturated fats.Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead.
- Sugars- A diet high in sugar contributes to weight gain and obesity, which contributes to heart disease.
- Alcohol- Alcohol can make heart failure worse. Stay within the guidelines recommended by your physician.
- Fruits and Vegetables – A diet packed with healthy fruits and vegetables provides fiber and important nutrients known to be heart-protective.
Tips for Everyday Life
Following a heart-healthy diet can keep you healthy. If you already have heart disease, like high blood pressure or heart failure, it can help to improve heart function. Seek medical advice and follow your doctor’s instructions closely.
When looking at your diet, it is easier to consider the whole picture, rather than just parts. These nutritional tips will make it worry-free.
- More of These
o Healthy fats such as olive oil, flax seeds, avocados and raw nuts
o Colorful vegetables and fruits, either frozen or fresh.
o High fiber foods like beans and legumes. Include whole grain foods like breads and cereals.
o Include more fish and poultry for important omega-3s and high quality protein.
o Use egg whites or egg substitutes, and keep dairy to skim, low-fat and non-fat. This supplies calcium and protein.
- Less of These
o Avoid saturated fats by eating less red meat and whole dairy products. Cut out fried foods.
o Eliminate any packaged foods from your diet. They contain a large amount of sodium and preservatives.
o White bread, cereal made of granola, or pastas and rice that are refined.
o Whole eggs and milk, or dairy products made from whole milk.
Food labels can lead you astray by claiming to be “cholesterol-free”, but it’s important to carefully read the ingredients list to make heart healthy choices.