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Heart Failure - Diet

As a CHF patient, your doctor will probably suggest a cardiac prudent (heart healthy) diet. A dietitian can assist you in getting started on your new diet. You can also read the section "Diet and Nutrition" in this notebook for more information.

One of the most important diet recommendations will be to monitor your sodium (salt) intake. This is important because excessive sodium can cause your blood pressure to rise and your body to retain extra fluid, both of which can place extra stress on your heart. Many doctors recommend no more than 2,400 mg per day, however, please check with your doctor for your specific recommendations.

CHF patients are often prescribed diuretics to assist their kidneys in ridding the body of excess fluids. Your doctor will probably advise you to take a potassium supplement or include foods high in potassium in your diet. Potassium helps the heart to function normally. These diuretics can also cause potassium loss. Be sure to visit with your doctor before taking in large amounts of potassium as too much can be harmful.

Because heart failure causes the kidneys to work overtime, excessive fluid intake should be avoided. Many doctors recommend limiting fluid intake to eight 8-oz glasses per day. Again, your doctor's recommendations may differ depending on your individual circumstances. Besides liquids, you should also monitor certain foods such as yogurt, pudding, ice cream, gelatin and fruits, which can add to your fluid total.

Alcohol and Caffeine
CHF patients should strive to eliminate alcohol from their diets entirely. Alcohol decreases the heart's ability to contract. Caffeine should also be modified as it is a stimulant which can place stress on the heart.

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