Nutrition For People With Congestive Heart Failure

Nutritious food is powerful medicine, especially for people living with congestive heart failure (CHF)! If you have CHF, a medically tailored diet can help you reduce fluid retention and have more energy while managing your disease. 

CHF is a condition where your heart muscles weaken, making it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood around your body to meet its needs for oxygen and nutrients. If you’re living with CHF, you may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid build-up in your lungs, ankles, hands, and feet.

What you eat and drink can have big impact on your energy levels as well as the severity of your symptoms. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • As your heart muscles weaken, your body will retain more fluid, causing swelling and requiring your heart to work even harder than before! When this happens you may feel more tired and have a harder time breathing. Diets containing too much salt make fluid retention worse. Restricting your sodium (salt) intake is one of the most important things you can do if you are living with CHF.
  • Carefully managing how much liquid you eat (yes, many foods count toward total fluid amounts!) or drink is also important for people with fluid buildup. Always follow your doctor or dietitian’s instructions on how much fluid to consume each day. Too much liquid will lead to additional fluid buildup, but too little liquid may cause you to become dehydrated. 

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with congestive heart failure? We’ve created a quick guide to help people with CHF make wise nutrition choices while managing their illness! The guide contains easy-to-implement nutrition tips and two heart-friendly recipes from the Project Angel Heart kitchen.