The term “edema” is how doctors describe the excess fluid in your body caused by your heart failure. Keeping the fluid levels down is important; otherwise, the heart and kidneys may get overworked.

  • Every day look for swelling in your legs.

  • If you’re not sure, use a soft tape measure on your ankle and write down the size each day.

  • Notice if the swelling moves higher up your leg.

  • If it is getting worse, contact your doctor.

There are several things you can do to help keep your fluid levels under control

  • Take all your medications exactly the way your doctor instructed.
    Medicines to control fluid levels include diuretics (sometimes called water pills); ACE inhibitors and ARBs, both of which help by adjusting hormones that affect how the heart functions; beta blockers, which help the heart do its job; and dioxin. You may take some or all of these. Follow instructions carefully.

  • Follow a low-sodium diet.
    Avoid processed foods, fast food and, if you dine in restaurants, order menu items that are fresh and don’t have sauces. Use as little salt as possible – it will really make a difference!

  • Restrict fluids.
    Your doctor has told you how much water, coffee and other beverages you can drink. If you are still thirsty, suck on hard candy, chew gum or eat a frozen grape.