Discharge Instructions for Heart Failure

You have been diagnosed with heart failure. The term “heart failure” sounds scary. But it doesn't mean that your heart will suddenly stop or that you are near death. It means the heart is not doing its job as well as it should. Heart failure happens when your heart muscle cannot keep up with your body’s need for blood flow. Symptoms of heart failure can be controlled by changes in your lifestyle and by following your doctor’s advice.


  • Maintain a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.

  • Cut back on salt.

    • Limit canned, dried, packaged, and fast foods.

    • Don’t add salt to your food at the table.

    • Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.


  • Keep your activities at a comfortable pace.

  • Alternate activities and rest periods throughout the day as needed, so that you do not get over-tired.

  • Talk to your doctor about an exercise program. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking or gardening. Don’t be discouraged if your progress is slow at first.

  • Your heart works harder when it is very hot or cold. Adjust your activity as needed when temperatures are extreme.

Weight Monitoring

  • Weigh yourself every morning after going to the bathroom and before you get dressed or have breakfast. Record this weight. Call your doctor for a weight gain of ___ pounds in one day or ___ pounds in one week.


  • Take your medications exactly as prescribed. Don’t skip doses. Notify your doctor if you can't afford the medications.

  • If you miss a dose of medication, take it as soon as you remember—unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, just wait and take your next dose at the normal time. Don’t take a double dose.

  • Call the pharmacy for prescription refills before you run out of medicine. Call your doctor or have your pharmacy call the doctor if you have no refills.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • Increased tiredness

  • Chest discomfort (heart pain or angina)  that is new, more frequent or more severe

  • Increased shortness of breath or lack of sleep due to difficulty breathing; wheezing or coughing  

  • Swelling or increased swelling in your legs and feet

  • Coughing up white, foamy or pinkish sputum

  • Weight gain of more than 2 pounds in 24 hours or more than 5 pounds in 1 week


  • Keep appointments for checkups and lab tests that are needed to check your medications and condition.


© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.