Understanding and promoting effective self-care during heart failure

Alexander M. Clark, Patricia Davidson, Kay Currie, Mehri Karimi, Amanda S. Duncan, David R. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Opinion statement: Heart failure (HF) self-care relates to the decisions made outside clinical settings by the individual with HF to maintain life, healthy functioning, and well-being. The people who help patients most (ie, caregivers/family members) should be involved in care, and general principles of health behavior change should be used to guide support. Medicines should be prescribed with once-daily dosing, with pharmacists providing medication review and support. Pill boxes should be provided and patients' health literacy levels assessed. Psychosocial interventions for smoking cessation should be undertaken. Regular aerobic exercise may benefit patients with mild to moderate HF and some with severe but stable HF; therefore, referral to cardiac rehabilitation should be considered. Exercise regimen must take into account patient-related factors, including functional status, comorbid conditions, and patient preferences. Intake of salt, alcohol, and fluid should be restricted, although these steps are supported by limited evidence. Patients should be educated on appropriate sources of help. They should seek help immediately for persistent chest pain, palpitations, syncope, breathlessness at rest, or a weight increase of ≥ 2 lb. Depression, if present, should be addressed with antidepressants (sertraline and citalopram), cognitive behavioral therapy, and regular exercise. HF disease management programs should be offered if available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan. 2010


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