Treatments for heart failure

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Heart Failure Management – video

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Medicines

It is very important to take your medicines as prescribed every day. Most people with heart failure need more than one medicine and it is important to take them all.

Physical activity

Regular physical activity will help your heart get stronger and will help you to feel less tired. Before you start any activity, talk with your nurse, doctor or health worker about a physical activity plan to suit you. 

Cardiac rehabilitation and heart failure management programs

Ask your doctor, nurse or health worker about going to a cardiac rehabilitation program or specialised heart failure management program. These programs are created to support people living with a heart condition.

Being physically active is one key to better heart health, and staff in these programs can support and guide you to build up your confidence to include more activity in your everyday routine.  They can also give you tips for healthy eating and taking your medicines. Another benefit is that you will meet other people with heart failure, giving you a chance to share ideas and support each other.

Find a cardiac rehabilitation program near you

Click below to search our cardiac services directory and find a cardiac rehabilitation or heart failure management program near you. 

 
Need assistance? Contact the Heart Foundation Helpline and speak to a qualified health professional for more information 

Heart Devices

Pacemaker

Heart failure can lead to heart muscle problems that cause electrical signals to travel too slowly through your heart. If you have this problem, your doctor may recommend that you have a special kind of pacemaker put in to help you feel better.

Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD)

An ICD works to restore a normal rhythm in the lower heart chambers; the device can sense when the heart rhythm is not right and uses a small, electrical shock to reset your heart and return the rhythm to normal. Your doctor will discuss with you whether you need an ICD.

Get more information on heart devices

What should you do when you feel sick?

There are a number of signs that will let you know when you need help managing your heart failure. These are called ‘Take Action’ signs.  

Call your doctor, nurse or health worker within 24 hours if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Ankles, legs or stomach swelling
  • Your shoes, socks or pants are getting very tight
  • You weight goes up or down by 2 kg in two days
  • Bad cough, especially at night
  • A new cough that won’t go away
  • Your breathing is getting harder
  • You can’t walk as far as you usually can
  • You have to sit up to sleep
  • You feel dizzy or feel like fainting
  • Heart is racing and won’t slow down (palpitations)

If you have any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor or health worker within 24 hours.

Download a copy of our 'Take Action in 24 hours’ plan, so you'll always know what to do when you're experiencing any of these symptoms. 

Download Plan

Emergency

Call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if you have any of these warning signs of heart attack:

  • Pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in your chest, arm(s), back, jaw, neck, shoulder(s)
  • You collapse or black out
  • It is very hard to breath or you can’t breathe.

Download a copy of our 'Take Action Emergency’ plan, so you'll always know what to do if you're experiencing the warning signs of a heart attack.  

Things you can do to feel better

Medicines

  • Take your medicines as prescribed
  • If you have a problem with your medicine, talk to your health worker, nurse, doctor or pharmacist
  • Use the My Medicines Plan (PDF) to help manage your medicines

Don’t have too much fluid

  • Know how much fluid or drink you can have each day. Use the My Fluid Plan (PDF) to help manage your fluids
  • Don’t eat too much salt, as salt holds fluid in your body. Don’t forget that salt is hidden in some foods, such as bread. Read more about eating less salt.
  • Coffee and cola may cause high blood pressure and can make your heart beat faster or race. Don’t have more than two drinks with caffeine a day, and remember to count these drinks in your daily fluid total.

Drink less alcohol

  • Alcohol can cause more damage to your heart. If you drink alcohol, talk to your nurse, doctor or health worker about cutting down on alcohol.

Keep healthy

  • Weigh yourself every morning
  • Ask your nurse, doctor or health worker whether you need to lose weight
  • Do some physical activity every day
  • Eat heart healthy food. Read more about eating a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke or be around people who smoke. Read more about smoking.
  • Look after your diabetes (sugar) and other health problems.

Immunisation

  • Have a flu vaccine every year
  • Talk to your doctor, nurse or health worker about keeping your pneumococcal vaccine up to date.

Remember

  • Keep your doctor’s appointment
  • Call your doctor, nurse or health worker when you don’t feel well
  • Talk to your family or carer about your heart failure.

Download a heart failure information booklet

Get useful information to help make you feel better.

Call the Heart Foundation Helpline

Speak to a qualified health professional.

Learn more about heart failure

Learn about the symptoms and tests to diagnose.