What activities should I avoid with congestive heart failure?

4 answers | Last updated: Mar 20, 2017
Doncullon asked...

I was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF). What should I avoid at all costs? Sex almost makes me pass out. Thank you.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

As with any other chronic disease, you should do your best to take care of yourself.  I would avoid salt, as too much salt will make you retain fluid.  Eat a healthy diet.  You should also listen to your doctor when starting to exercise, as you should start out slowly.  You should try to get enough sleep and reduce your stress.

As your symptoms improve, you should try to have sex again.  I would check out the American Heart Association's website, as they have some good advice on this issue.

Community Answers

Kallieann33 answered...

I have CHF, tests yesterday rated my ejection fraction at between 20 and 25. What can I do to improve it? I'm presently on vacation in Florida for another two months but will be driving home with my husband at that time. Is it possible for me to suddenly NOT wake up one morning dead?

Mikeb26 answered...

Hi Kallieann. I'm sorry to see you're having such a hard time, but you ask great questions. I'm a nurse.

Please give your doctor a call about that long drive you plan to make. My first thought is that it could become a pretty big mistake. All that sitting will likely cause fluid retention (holding onto water), especially in your lower legs and lungs. You really don't want any part of that. Of course, I don't know you, so I'm not suggesting that you do or don't do anything-- but I am telling, flat out, TELL YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT THE TRIP YOU'RE PLANNING.

Beyond that, I'd encourage you to stop worrying about numbers like your EF (ejection fraction). Concentrate on stuff you can control-- 1) Take your meds as prescribed-- I know the diuretics (like Lasix, furosemide and hydrocholothiazide, aka HCTZ) can be inconvenient, but they can make you much more able to get around, along with avoiding leg ulcers and pneumonia. So take them, your other CHF drugs, and any other medications you're taking for other medical problems. 2) Don't sleep in chairs. That means, if you doze off watching TV, you should go lie down. And if you have trouble breathing lying down, don't go to a chair to sleep-- use extra pillows. This will reduce your risk of leg swelling and leg ulcers. I know this might be inconvenient, and even unpleasant, but it's a big deal. 3) CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR NEW PROBLEMS, -- New shortness of breath -- New swelling in your legs -- Weight gain (you probably have instructions about this-- if you don't, ask your doctor) -- Any problems you have with your medications. Don't just stop taking them. Talk to your doctor-- I can't overemphasize how important this one is.


Sorry for the long answer, but it's great that you're interesting in taking care of yourself. That takes wisdom and courage.

Good luck, Mike

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