Sodium Reduction, Weight Monitoring & Fluid Moderation
Sodium reduction is a national priority for the CDC. The agency is working with national, state, and local partners to gradually reduce sodium consumption, increase blood pressure control, and improve nutrition
Pamela Luehr, BSN, CCNC, Cardiovascular Nurse, discusses sodium reduction and heart failure recovery.
Pamela Luehr, BSN, CCNC, Cardiovascular Nurse, discusses activity plans for heart failure patients.
Sodium Reduction in Heart Failure Patients
So it’s really important to watch your sodium intake when it comes especially to heart failure.
Fluid retention is one of the biggest issues that we have with heart failure patients. And we have the fluid that builds up in our feet, our legs, and our belly. And that makes you feel very full and bloated and uncomfortable, as well as the fluid that builds up in your lungs which makes it difficult for you to breathe.
As far as how much salt you should have in your diet, we do recommend a diet of less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, recognizing that the average North American diet has about four to five thousand milligrams.
You know, you find most of our sodium is hidden in those processed foods. So things like processed meats or if it comes in a – we always say if it comes in a bag, a box, or is pre-packaged, it probably has more than 70 percent of the daily recommended allowance of sodium in it.
So really avoiding those pre-packaged products. Shop around the outside of the grocery aisle. Look for that fresh produce. If fresh isn’t available – fresh is always best – but if it’s not available, have a look down the frozen food aisle for the frozen veggies. And usually those have a lot less sodium than the canned products.
So if you’re looking for additional resources if you’re having a challenging time, you know monitoring the salt in your diet, talk to your family physician and ask for a referral to your local dietitian. They’re your best resource when it comes to learning how to read labels and reducing salt in your diet.
Fluid Moderation for Heart Failure Patients
Monitoring your fluid intake is really important for heart failure patients because fluid has a tendency to build up in our feet, legs, belly, and also your lungs which makes it challenging for you to breathe.>
So if you had a healthy heart, we would not be concerned about, you know, limiting your fluids, but when it comes to having a muscle that’s weak and having a challenging time we want to take the stress and workload off the muscle. So we look at heart failure patients being on a fluid restricted diet.
This can be really challenging at the beginning because you are thirsty and you want to have something to drink. So its great to know that over time, your body does adjust the fluid restrictions.
And there are some strategies to help you with, you know, quenching that thirst whether its sucking on some sugar-free candies or, you know, freezing your fruits and veggies so they cold and they feel good when they are in your mouth. We look for a fluid restriction of about one and a half liters to two liters a day or six to eight cups.
And again, you know, that to just prevent the fluid retention that a lot of heart failure patients have to deal with. Whats really important is you have to remember that fluid is any food or liquid that becomes liquid at room temperature.
So that means things like Jell-O, ice cream, Popsicles. Those are also included in your fluid content. Again, if you are concerned about, you know, how much fluid am I drinking one of the tips we recommend is to get yourself a large measuring cup, one of those big eight cup measures.
You know, every time you have a cup of coffee, fill that up with water and then dump it in the eight cup measure and you will be able to judge on a daily basis whether or not you sticking to your fluid retention guidelines.
As well, talk to your dietitian. She can give you lots of tips and tricks on how to best quench your thirst when you are having trouble dealing with the fluid restrictions associated with heart failure. Local Cardiologist
Activity Plan for Heart Failure Patients
So there’s several things that you can do to help live a healthier life with heart failure.
So number one is you can start watching the salt in your diet. So it’s really important to know how to read labels. So talking to a dietitian is really important.
We recommend that you have a diet of less than 2,000 milligrams of salt a day. That’s a really low sodium diet. Most of us have between four and five thousand milligrams of sodium in our diet.
So what’s interesting is that, you know, most people are concerned about the salt shaker on the table and that’s not actually the biggest source of sodium. Over 70 percent of it is found hidden in processed foods.
So we recommend for heart failure patients that they follow a diet of less than 2,000 milligrams a day. It prevents the fluid retention and that is, you know, when you have too much salt in the diet, you have fluid that builds up in your feet, your legs, and your belly. Sometimes it gets into the lungs and it makes it difficult to breathe.
Being active is a really important part of caring for yourself as a heart failure patient. First of all, it makes you feel better mentally, feel better physically, you sleep better, you’re less breathless. All those are really important when it comes to caring for yourself as a health failure patient.
It’s important that you talk to your family physician about an activity plan suited for you. We really encourage you to connect with your local cardiac rehab program as they can provide an exercise prescription that will help you live well with heart failure.