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Lifestyle Changes for Cardiac Patients

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

When one develops Cardiac pathology like Ischaemic Heart Disease, Cardiac Failure, Rheumatic Valvular Heart Disease, Cardiac Arrythmias, etc., it's time to take a hard look at one's lifestyle choices and make drastic changes towards a healthy lifestyle. Below are some suggestions to make these necessary changes.

A. Careful Diet Visit this page for detailed information on how to manage your diet as a cardiac patient.

B. Appropriate Exercise Visit this page for instructions on what type of exercise is appropriate for your cardiac condition. More specific advice will be given to you when we fully analyse your case history.

C. Restricted Fluid intake

In heart failure extra fluid builds up in the body, which makes the heart have to work harder. Restricting fluid intake can help to limit this build up of fluid. The following are some things you can do to help manage your body's fluid status:

1. Limit your fluid intake per day. In the hospital your fluid restriction will be measured in cc/day. Here are some common measures:

  • 2 Tablespoons of fluid = 1 oz = 30 cc

  • 1/2 cup of fluid =4oz = 120 cc

  • 1 cup of fluid = 8oz = 240 cc

  • 1 quart of fluid = 32oz = 960 cc

2. When considering fluids in your fluid restriction, remember that a fluid is considered to be any food or beverage that is a liquid at room temperature. This includes water, ice chips, soups, beverages, ice cream, sherbets, popsicles, and gelatin.

3. Restrict your sodium intake. Sodium acts like a sponge in the body to hold on to extra fluid, which increases the heart's workload. The recommendation is to limit daily sodium to 2 grams (or 2000 mg), but check with your doctor or dietitian for your sodium restriction.

4. Weigh yourself every day. Use the same scale and try to weigh yourself at the same time every day. If your weight increases two pounds, or if you experience any of the symptoms of fluid retention, call your doctor immediately.

5. Remember the rule of 2's. When in doubt, use this rule to guide you: Limit fluid to 2 quarts, sodium to 2 grams, and if you gain 2 pounds in 2 days call 2 get help.

6. Fluids you use to take medications must also be counted in your fluid restriction.

7. Your fluid restriction may at times leave you with thirst and a dry mouth. Here are a few suggestions to try that may help you feel more comfortable:

  • Eat fresh juicy fruits such as watermelon, grapes, oranges, peaches, etc. However, if you consume more than 3 servings/day of these juicy fruits, count each additional serving as fluid (1 cup fruit = 1/2 cup fluid).

  • Freeze or partially freeze pieces of fruit, like lemon wedges dipped in sugar, for a refreshing treat.

  • Keep hard candies, mints, and gum available. Some people find the sugar free varieties to be more thirst quenching.

  • Chill mouthwash and gargle for a fresh feeling.

  • Prepare a measured amount of ice chips and flavor with lemon juice, if desired. Ice melts to about half the original amount. This still counts as fluid, but may last longer and be more refreshing than the same amount of beverage (example: 1 cup ice = 1/2 cup fluid).

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