More triggers of heart failure exacerbations
Uncontrolled high blood pressure weakens the heart muscle and affects the heart's pumping strength. High blood pressure can also cause fluid retention. Over time, failure to control cardiac risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, can lead to a heart attack, which can initiate heart failure.
How to avoid this trigger: Check blood pressure regularly and be sure your loved one takes all medications prescribed to control blood pressure. Bring in a log of blood pressure measurements when you visit the doctor and ask what his or her blood pressure goal is. If medications aren't working adequately, tell the doctor; dosages may need to be increased or a different medication prescribed.
When your loved one is anemic, there may not be enough oxygen delivered to his or her heart, and this adds to the strain on the heart muscle. Over time, this can lead to an exacerbation.
How to avoid this trigger: Make sure your loved one is getting enough iron, either from diet or in the form of supplements. If there's a concern, ask the doctor to test for anemia. If your loved one has been told to take iron but stopped because it's hard on his or her digestive system, talk to the doctor about other forms of iron he or she can take. Recognizing the role that anemia plays in worsening outcomes for heart failure, the doctor may have alternatives for your loved one's specific cause of anemia.
Other conditions that can trigger a heart failure exacerbation
Worsening kidney function
These heart failure triggers aren't necessarily under your control, so there isn't any action required to manage them, but it's important to be aware of the role they play in heart failure exacerbations. If kidney function is worsening or arrhythmia is an ongoing problem, these are reasons to be even more alert for sudden worsening of heart failure.