Lifestyle Changes with Heart Failure
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Decreased Kidney Function

People with heart failure frequently have decreased kidney function (called renal insufficiency). This can be due to the normal aging processes, heart failure, and to medicines used to treat heart failure. If you have mild or moderate kidney impairment, taking medicines prescribed for heart failure most likely will not affect your kidney impairment.

If you experience symptoms of retaining too much fluid, your doctor or nurse may increase your diuretic (water pill) to overcome changes in your kidney function. Symptoms of fluid retention (also called water and salt retention or edema) include:

  • Swelling in your legs, arms, or abdomen (edema).
  • Worsening shortness of breath (congestion).
  • Increase in weight.
  • Inability to sleep lying down.

If your kidney function worsens, your doctor or nurse will need to change some of your heart failure medicines.

Always take your diuretic and other heart failure medicines only as prescribed. Taking too much of some medicines can worsen your kidney function. (See Module 3: Heart Failure Medicines for information on taking diuretics and other medicines to treat heart failure.)

You should also follow a low-sodium diet and monitor your fluid intake. (See Module 2: How to Follow a Low-Sodium Diet for more information on how to reduce your sodium intake.)

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