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Having congestive heart failure can lead to serious health complications such as having fluid in the lungs or heart related problems 12. Diet along with medication compliance is an important part of the management of congestive heart failure 12. Monitoring fluid and sodium intake helps to prevent overloading the heart.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure, also known as CHF is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs according to the Mayo Clinic 12. High blood pressure or other heart or kidney conditions can lead to congestive heart failure 12. The inability of the heart to pump blood efficiently enough can lead to fluid in the lungs or extremities, fatigue, or irregular heart rhythm. If congestive heart failure is not treated, it can cause kidney, heart or liver damage, or even sudden death 12.
Sodium and Liver Damage
It is important to limit sodium in your diet when you have congestive heart failure because sodium can lead to fluid or water retention 12. This, in turn, can put more pressure on the heart to work harder. Sodium is a component of salt, and is used to season many different foods. Read food labels for sodium content, avoid added salt, and discuss sodium content in menu items when you are going out to eat. Instead of using salt or sodium filled seasoning to flavor food, try lemon or fresh herbs.
- It is important to limit sodium in your diet when you have congestive heart failure because sodium can lead to fluid or water retention 1.
- Read food labels for sodium content, avoid added salt, and discuss sodium content in menu items when you are going out to eat.
It is important to discuss with your doctor daily fluid limitations for your condition if you have CHF. Some patients may have a specific fluid restriction that their doctor recommends. Measuring fluid intake is not as easy as it seems. It is important to remember that fluid is contained in soups, some desserts, such as gelatins, and other prepared food items. The best way to keep track of fluid intake, if you are on fluid restriction, is to keep a dietary log.
- It is important to discuss with your doctor daily fluid limitations for your condition if you have CHF.
- The best way to keep track of fluid intake, if you are on fluid restriction, is to keep a dietary log.
Foods to Avoid
Lasix & Diet
Reading labels for sodium content is recommended. There are certain foods that are high in sodium that should be avoided. These include:
- vegetable or tomato soups
- salted crackers
- canned meats or fish
- cold cuts
- dehydrated soups
- pickled vegetables
Canned foods and dehydrated prepared foods are also high in sodium.
Instead of pre-packaged foods, try having fresh fruits and vegetables. Since you are preparing them, you know that there is no added salt. Check the labels of enriched breads and cereals for sodium content prior to purchasing. Lean protein sources, such as chicken or tofu cooked without sodium, are healthy choices for protein. For dairy products, try to stick with low fat or non fat milks, cheeses or yogurts.
- Instead of pre-packaged foods, try having fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sodium and Liver Damage
Lasix & Diet
Low Phosphorus, Potassium & Sodium Menus
Chronic Kidney Disease Sample Diet
Recommended Food for Kidney Dialysis Patients
Nutritional Information in Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
Health Side Effects of Salt
How Many Milligrams of Sodium Should I Have in One Day?
Is Sodium Bad For You?
A Low Sodium 1800-Calorie Diet
- UCSF Medical Center: Diet and Congestive Heart Failure
- Mayo Clinic: Heart Failure
- American Heart Association. Warning signs of heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- American Heart Association. Types of heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
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- Yunina D, Sharma D, Fazio R, Amin H, Tsirlin Y, Shetty V. Advanced biventricular heart failure due to left ventricular noncompaction cardiomyopathy leading to the formation of a fastric bezoar: the implications of heart failure on the gastrointestinal tract. Case Rep Cardiol. 2018;2018:4386025. doi:10.1155/2018/4386025
- Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation. 2013;128(16):e240-327. doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829e8776
- Giallourakis CC. Liver complications in patients with congestive heart failure. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013;9(4):244–246.
- Cleveland Clinic. Heart failure: understanding heart failure. Updated May 1, 2019.
- Joseph SM, Cedars AM, Ewald GA, Geltman EM, Mann DL. Acute decompensated heart failure: contemporary medical management [published correction appears in Tex Heart Inst J. 2010;37(1):135. Dosage error in article text]. Tex Heart Inst J. 2009;36(6):510–520.
- Teerlink JR, Alburikan K, Metra M, Rodgers JE. Acute decompensated heart failure update. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2015;11(1):53–62. doi:10.2174/1573403x09666131117174414
- American Heart Association. Common tests for heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- Cleveland Clinic. NT-proB-type natriuretic peptite (BNP). Updated April 25, 2019.
- Gaggin HK, Januzzi JL. Cardiac biomarkers and heart failure. American College of Cardiology. February 10, 2015.
- Brakohiapa EKK, Botwe BO, Sarkodie BD, Ofori EK, Coleman J. Radiographic determination of cardiomegaly using cardiothoracic ratio and transverse cardiac diameter: can one size fit all? Part one. Pan Afr Med J. 2017;27:201. doi:10.11604/pamj.2017.27.201.12017
- American Heart Association. Classes of heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- Cleveland Clinic. Heart failure: understanding heart failure: management and treatment. Updated May 1, 2019.
- American Heart Association. Lifestyle changes for heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- Maisch B. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy : The result of dosage and individual predisposition. Alkoholische Kardiomyopathie : Eine Folge der Dosis und der individuellen Prädisposition. Herz. 2016;41(6):484–493. doi:10.1007/s00059-016-4469-6
- American Heart Association. Medications used to treat heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- Page RL, O'bryant CL, Cheng D, et al. Drugs that may cause or exacerbate heart failure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016;134(6):e32-69. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000426
- American Heart Association. Devices and surgical procedures to treat heart failure. Updated May 31, 2017.
- Cook JA, Shah KB, Quader MA, et al. The total artificial heart. J Thorac Dis. 2015;7(12):2172-80. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2015.10.70
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart disease and depression: A two-way relationship. Published April 16, 2017.
Melissa Angela has a master's degree in public health with a specialization in community health education. She is also a registered nurse, having worked in the health field for more than 15 years. Angela has a special interest in wellness and promotion of women's health and serves as a freelance health writer for various websites.