You’ll need to know your baseline weight.
Weight is a touchy subject (we know). Nobody wants to be told to lose weight, regardless of whether it comes from their mother or their doctor.
But for patients with heart failure, losing weight could have a major impact on treatment and recovery. Cardiologist Dennis A. Goodman, MD, explains why extra weight causes problems for heart failure and how patients with heart failure can manage their weight.
Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body to all of your muscles and tissues. When your body has extra weight, that means extra tissue. The heart then has to work extra to pump enough blood to all of the body’s tissues, which essentially exhausts the heart muscle over time. (Here’s more details about how heart failure affects the body.)
The first step to managing heart failure is getting to a healthy body weight if you’re overweight.
Then it’s critical to weigh yourself every day, because small increases in weight can indicate your heart failure isn’t being well managed, and you might need to adjust your medications or make other lifestyle changes.
Natural weight fluctuation is normal throughout the day, so weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time to get a consistent picture. If your weight moves up or down by more than three pounds, contact your physician.
It might seem excessive to notify a doctor about a few little pounds, but changes in weight can accumulate and become dangerous for a person with heart failure. Your doc would much rather help you make adjustments in your treatments now than deal with a more urgent crisis later.
For more advice on living with heart failure, here are heart-healthy habits for treating heart failure.
Dr. Goodman is board-certified in cardiology, internal medicine, lipidology, integrative medicine, and cardiac CT. He is the director of integrative medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center and a clinical professor of medicine at NYU.
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important that you eat correctly to try
to get yourself to an ideal body weight.
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It makes sense that if you are overweight,
you are asking your heart to pump more.
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Because there is more tissue
that you have to send blood to.
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So getting the weight down is a very
important part of treating heart failure.
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We like to know what is
your baseline weight.
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Because what happens is many patients
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actually start putting on weight
before they get a real decompensation.
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And we say that if it goes up or
down more than three pounds, say,
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four pounds, you notify your physician.
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I tell patients to weigh
themselves every single day.
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So daily weight is an extremely
important part of management.
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If there's a change,
they're more short of breath,
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they're four pounds up,
I'm gonna know about it.
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I say, come in.
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Because we'd much rather treat them and
increase the diuretics, or
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make an adjustment, than see the next
minute there in the hospital.
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I'm very big on getting patients to
try to get to an ideal body weight.
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If they're overweight,
they're an increased risk,
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makes it harder to treat heart failure.
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And they're more likely
to have decompensations,
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more likely to have progression.
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Heart failure: Checking your weight daily. Washington, D.C.: American College of Cardiology, 2015. (Accessed on May 23, 2017 at https://www.cardiosmart.org/~/media/Documents/Fact%20Sheets/en/zp3773.ashx.)
Heart failure - home monitoring. Bethesda, MD: U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017. (Accessed on May 23, 2017 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000113.htm.)
Monitoring your weight & fluid intake with heart failure: Tracking your weight. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Clinic, 2016. (Accessed on May 23, 2017 at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/monitoring-weight-fluid-intake.)