Heart failure can happen to anyone. In fact, almost 6 million Americans are living with this chronic condition and more than 870,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.

Despite its common nature, many people don’t understand the impact it can have on the lives of those who live with it. Heart failure” makes it seem like the heart is not working at all and there’s nothing that can be done, but this is actually not true. Heart failure actually means that the heart isn’t pumping the way it should. 

Through one of our latest projects, Health Stories Project community members living with heart failure shared advice they would give to someone newly diagnosed with heart failure.

Find a medical team you trust and listen to them.

“Find a doctor and a care team that you trust and that they listens to you. And listen to them! Have thorough discussions about your meds and treatment plans. Take your meds, follow your sodium and fluid restrictions, move and do as much light to moderate exercise as possible. Find a great support group! Lean on your friends and family. Get a good therapist. This disease affects your mind as much as your body. And try to remain positive. Congestive heart failure isn’t a death sentence.” – Ashley

“Listen to your doctors about what you can and cannot do. I didn’t and it has nearly cost me my life because my blood pressure ran out of control. Take your medication as prescribed, don’t think it’s not necessary because it’s very likely what is keeping you functioning and able to do what you are doing.” – Barbara

“Find a compassionate doctor and medical team. Be progressive and open minded in treatment options.” – Kimberly

“Find the treatment/team that works for you and works with you. Do your research. Don’t let them minimize your concerns. Don’t let them make assumptions based on your race, sex and age.” -Vernice

“Excellent medical care makes a big difference! Keep up with your medications and try to get as much exercise as you can tolerate.” – Anonymous

“It is a marathon. Hang in there, you will be fine. Follow what your healthcare providers tell you to do as well as do your own homework. More than anything, accept heart failure as your reality and happily move on!! You will live a great life!!” – Kathaleen

Live life to the fullest.

“Live every day like it’s your last, don’t be afraid to do the things you’ve always wanted, be easy on yourself and flexible as some days will be harder than others” – Tiffany

“Don’t let heart failure stop you from living your life. Make sure you take this seriously because it can damage or become fatal if we don’t treat this responsibly. I’m still here after 11 years and the doctors said I would only have 5 years.” –  Jerome

“Don’t let it define who you are. It is only a part of who you are. Continue to live life to the best of your ability. Listen to your body. When it says it’s tired, lay down and take a nap. Stay positive and keep a positive attitude.” – Sandy

“We live in a time where treatment for heart failure is more than possible! Technology and medications are helping people live with heart failure. Keep living!” – Anonymous

“Continue all the things you love just do them a little at a time. Forget hurrying. Take your time and enjoy life.” – Linda

Create a good support system.

“If you are able to, have some people who are close to you (relatives and/or friends be by your side. This is especially true when you have heart surgery and recovery.” – Eric

“Find a good support group and make sure the people around you are supportive and helpful. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.” – Ashley 

“Have a great support group and live the best life you can everyday you feel well and tell your family and friends how much you love them.” – Anonymous

Stay active and try to eat a healthy diet.

heart failure

“Take care of yourself, eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water and walk daily if able. Take your medications at the same time daily and get your rest. Nap if you must and take things one day at a time.” – Tina

“Change your diet first & foremost. Don’t eat any processed food. Eat organic fresh foods, make everything from scratch. Don’t be sedentary, even if you can’t run, you can hike or take long walks. Just move your body, even while sitting move your limbs. Listen to your body. Get a good support system, join a group of folks who share in the diagnosis. Drink water. Make water your primary and if possible your only beverage. Go out in nature & replenish your spirit, breathe in the fresh air amongst the trees, take photos of bees, flowers, sunsets and sunrises. Listen to the ocean and be one with nature as often as possible.” – Eileen

“Get up even when you don’t want to. Just walk if your tired. Take your medicine. At least attempt to get used to some of side effects.” – Anonymous

“Don’t give up and continue with everyday living. Definitely leave salt alone and check your food labels to see how much sodium is in your products.” – Anonymous