Living with Heart Failure and Managing Advanced HF

couple hugging and smiling

After the heart failure diagnosis

Although it can be difficult living with a chronic condition such as heart failure, many people learn to manage the symptoms and enjoy full lives.

People who report greater improvement and emotional well-being often build new habits around eating better, tracking and managing their symptoms and exercising (as directed by their health care team).

Monitoring symptoms and follow-up care are important for someone with heart failure. If you have concerns about accessing care, affording your medications or finding transportation to and from medical appointments, ask your health care team for support with finding resources that can help.

At the American Heart Association, we’re developing quality education and expanding resources to help you and your loved ones successfully manage your heart failure. 

Learn more about living successfully with heart failure:

Dealing with new emotions

You’re probably feeling many emotions connected with your condition. You may feel alone, angry, scared or different from the person you were before you learned you have heart failure. These feelings are common. They may go away as you learn to understand and manage your condition.

The important thing to remember is that your emotions can affect managing your heart failure symptoms. It’s important to understand your feelings, recognize problems and ask for help if you need it.

Seeking support

As you become healthier, reach out again to family and friends. Don’t be discouraged if friends seem distant or uncomfortable at first. They may be afraid to talk about your condition. They might even say or do insensitive things. Keep in mind, their intent is not to hurt you. Big changes take getting used to, for them as well as you.

Staying connected with friends and family

Don’t assume that people no longer desire your company. What if someone you love had heart failure instead of you? Would you stop being interested in that person? Chances are you’d still want to have a close and active relationship.

Family and friends are likely to feel the same way about you. You’re worthy of love now, just as you were before your diagnosis. As you manage your symptoms and begin to feel better, be sure to stay engaged in life. You might start by accepting short visits. When you feel up to it, you can add more daily social activity.

Identifying your activity goals

Managing your heart failure symptoms is about returning to function. It’s also about doing things that make you satisfied with life. You might want to start by visiting with a friend. Or you might go for a short walk with a family member. As you start to feel better and become more active, you’ll be more able to handle life outside your home.

Now is a good time to think about the things that matter most to you. What do you need to do? What do you want to do?

Overall, take your time. Make a gradual return to your normal daily activities.

Now that you have a better understanding of the tools you’ll need to manage heart failure, take the time to list your goals. 

Dealing with advanced heart failure

Advanced heart failure means the condition has progressed to where traditional therapies and symptom management are no longer working. Of the more than 6 million American adults living with heart failure, about 10% have advanced heart failure. Their treatment decisions can become more complex.

Learn more about options for people facing advanced heart failure:

Be sure to visit our Support Network, where you can connect with an encouraging group of people online and share insights with others like you.