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Congestive Heart Failure Diet

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

For congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, salt and water intake takes a backseat and focus is more on eating fresh vegetables and fruits.
Nicks J
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Important Diet Tip
Salt and fluid intake must be brought down to keep CHF in check. The salt consumption for CHF patients is limited to 2 gm per day. Fluid intake should not exceed beyond 1.5 liters per day.

People diagnosed with CHF suffer from edema, excessive tiredness and breathing difficulty. The main function of the heart is to pump oxygenated blood to different parts of the body. However, in this condition, the heart weakens and hence, its pumping ability reduces drastically. This causes disturbances in the normal circulation of blood. As a result, the amount of oxygenated blood delivered to the body also decreases. The fluids in the blood begin to accumulate in the body tissues, leading to water retention.
Diet for CHF Patients
In order to improve the patient's health, the doctor recommends certain dietary changes that need to be followed lifelong.
Water
'Drink plenty of water' is what everyone says to stay fit and fine. Many recommend to drink 8 glasses of water everyday. However, this tip for health is not applicable to CHF patients in the elderly. The reason is simple; Water retention is common among CHF sufferers, which many times causes swelling of legs. So it is obvious that the patient has to keep a check on water intake to prevent the body from retaining fluids.
Salt
Although, salt (sodium) enhances the taste of food, it also promotes water retention. Too much salt can lead to accumulation of fluids in the abdomen, legs and the lungs, eventually causing breathing problems. So, minimizing salt intake is important to prevent any complications. Besides adding less salt when cooking food, one has to stay away from foods high in sodium. Processed foods such as salty chips have to be avoided. Although vegetables, soups and meat packed in cans are free from preservatives, they are high in salts. So, instead of going for canned foodstuffs, prefer fresh fruits and vegetables (salad) to reduce salt intake. Most tomato ketchup and sauce, available in the market are loaded with salt, so people with CHF should avoid eating these foodstuffs. Junk foods such as hotdogs, smoked meat, hamburgers and pizzas have to be avoided as they contain too much salt.
Saturated Fats
High fatty foods such as processed meat, fried foodstuffs, chicken with skin, egg yolk, pastries, ice creams and cakes can damage the arteries, eventually causing CHF.
Alcohol
It is said that moderate alcohol consumption promotes a healthy heart. Again, this statement doesn't hold true for people diagnosed with CHF. In fact, alcohol consumption is likely to cause more damage to the heart muscles. Therefore, be it the wine, whisky or beer, one has to refrain from consuming these alcoholic beverages.
How to Lower Salt Intake
Stop adding salt to your cooking recipes and go for natural salt substitutes like lime juice to enhance taste. The gravy matter, especially in restaurant meals is high in salt and bad cholesterol. So, order foods that contains minimal amount of gravies. Also, when preparing food at home, avoid making gravies. Every packaged food comes with a label that specifies its content per serving. If the food label indicates that the sodium content is less than 140 mg, then only buy that product.
Tips for Managing CHF Effectively
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is a prerequisite to control CHF. Increase in weight, especially in a short period of time is a cause for concern, as it may cause CHF symptoms to worsen. So, monitor your weight everyday at home and any weight gain (2 pounds in a day) must be immediately brought to the notice of your health care provider.
  • In order to keep weight under control, follow a healthy diet and of course, exercise daily. However, CHF patients are expected to avoid any strenuous activity. Your daily workouts should consists of low impact exercises such as brisk walking and stationary biking. Although exercise is important, do not overdo it or perform at a high intensity. Exercise that leaves you gasping for breath will do more harm than good. Also, in case you have difficulty breathing while exercising, stop immediately and relax.
  • Avoid smoking, as it is one of the major risk factor in the development of CHF. Although, quitting smoking won't reverse CHF, it can definitely help to prevent symptoms from worsening.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.