Following Your Heart Failure Treatment Plan
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Monitoring Your Weight Gain and Body Swelling Daily

Weight gain or swelling (also called edema) are signs that fluid is building up in your body. You should take steps to reduce the amount of fluid in your body before it becomes more serious.

Swelling occurs because there is too much sodium (salt) in your body. Extra fluid causes swelling in your ankles and legs. Your shoes may feel tight. You may also notice that your rings feel tight or that you have other swelling in your hands. Some people develop swelling in their abdomen causing clothing to feel tight in the waist.

Checking for weight gain is important. You can gain weight without swelling. The average person can hold about 8 to15 extra pounds of fluid before developing swelling. That is why one of the best ways to watch for fluid building up is to weigh yourself every day.

The goal is to recognize a change in weight before you develop swelling and other symptoms. That way you can take steps early to remove the extra weight.

To monitor your weight, you should:

  • Write down your weight on the morning of the day after you get home from the hospital. This is probably your dry weight.

    Dry weight is your weight without extra body fluid. It is not related to your body size (thin or heavy). Instead, it is related to the amount of fluid retained in your body due to your heart failure.

    If you have not been in the hospital recently, ask your doctor or nurse what your dry body weight is.

    My dry weight is ____________.

  • Weigh yourself at the same time, on the same scale, and in the same way every day. A good way to do this is to get on the scale the first thing in the morning after you urinate, but before you eat breakfast and have a bowel movement. If you change the routine for weighing yourself, your weight may change by two or more pounds.

  • Write your weight down every day. You can use a weight log chart to help you chart your weight. You can download the weight chart in PDF format at the following link:

    http://abouthf.org/module4/weight_chart.htm

    Bring your weight chart with you when you visit your doctor.

    Compare your weight to your dry weight, not yesterday's weight. Keep your weight as close as possible to your dry weight to decrease the risk of worsening heart failure.


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