Heart Services

Heart Failure Management

How to manage heart failure

Important ways to take care of yourself

Take an active role in your health. Use our Keep Your Heart in the Healthy Zone sheet to keep you “in the zone” on a daily basis (English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Russian). The following information will teach you more about heart failure and how to help you manage it. 


  • Take your medicine exactly as your doctor has prescribed. 
  • Do not skip doses and never take 2 doses at once. 
  • Do not take any other drug or supplements without talking to your doctor first; some may make your heart failure worse. 
  • Contact our social worker (503-413-4187) to help you when medications become too expensive.


  • Limit food high in salt/sodium. No more than 2000 mg of sodium or salt per day.
  • Use our heart failure diet (English), (Spanish) sheet to keep you on track.

 Weight Monitoring

  • Weigh yourself on the same scale every day at the same time. 
  • Call your doctor if you gain 2 pounds for 2 days in a row or if you gain 4 pounds or more in 1 week.


  • Exercise, even gentle exercise, for 30 minutes every day can help reduce weight, blood pressure, improve heart health, emotional health and overall physical health
  • Balance your activity with rest. 
  • Be as active as you can each day, but also take rest periods.
  • Stop if during activity if you have worsening shortness of breath, pain, nausea, or extreme tiredness. 


  • Smoking puts much more work on your heart and lungs.
  • Quitting today is the most important thing you can do for your heart. 

What to do if symptoms worsen 

  • Call your doctor if you have more shortness of breath, more swelling in your feet, ankles, or stomach, dizziness, dry hacky cough, a sudden weight gain, or a feeling of uneasiness about your condition.

Follow up 

  • Call your physician for a follow up appointment. 
  • Bring a list of your medications and weight records to your appointments. 

Drugs to treat heart failure

There are medicines that work in different ways to help treat heart failure and manage symptoms. Drugs used include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics and aldosterone blockers.

Some of these drugs block effects of stress hormones that can make heart failure worse. Some relax the blood vessels and decrease the workload of the heart.

Read more about drugs to treat heart failure.

Drugs to avoid

Drugs to avoid include NSAID's (such as ibuprofen) and some herbal medications. If you have heart failure, you should always check with your primary care provider before taking any over-the-counter medications. 

Advanced therapies

If you have heart failure, you may want to talk to your primary care doctor and ask if you should see a special doctor who has advanced training in caring for heart failure patients. 

If you have certain forms of heart failure, you may receive advanced treatments such as an automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator (AICD), biventricular pacemaker or other options. 

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