Published on March 16, 2017

Heart failure: Drink less, feel better

Why you may need to drink fewer fluids

Woman drinkingWhen you have heart failure, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for staying well. And one of those instructions might be to limit your fluid intake. Here’s why:

Heart failure can cause fluid to build up in your body. As a result, your legs might swell or you might feel out of breath. But limiting what you drink can help keep fluid from accumulating.

“It can help you feel better and lower your risk of having to go to the hospital,” says Linda Ricci, RN, BSN, a Mercy Home Health nurse.
Your doctor will tell you how much water or other fluids to drink every day.

To track your fluid intake:

  • Find out how much fluid your regular drinking glasses hold. That way you won’t have to measure every time.
  • Remember that some foods, like soup, and foods that melt (such as ice cream) contain fluid. So also count these as part of your fluid intake.

Watch for weight gain

How can you tell if you’re retaining fluid? One of the best ways is to step on the scale every day—before you eat breakfast and after you use the bathroom.

“A sudden weight gain may mean your heart failure symptoms are changing and your treatment needs adjusting,” Linda states.

Call your doctor if your weight suddenly goes up. Generally, that means by more than 2 to 3 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week. But ask your doctor for guidelines specifically related to your condition.