Great Expectations®for Heart Failure helps you learn how to better manage your congestive heart failure (HF). We automatically enroll all BlueChoice HealthPlan members with HF at no charge. Our goal is to help you learn to manage your symptoms so you can keep doing the things you enjoy. Ready to get started? Review the heart failure guide for tips to help you get on the road to better health.
You will also receive:
- Information about how we cover your condition.
- Occasional updates about HF and its treatment.
- Great online information in the HeartHub.
- Telephone access to cardiac nurses to answer your questions or for counseling.
Making lifestyle changes can often help relieve the symptoms of HF, slow down its progression and improve your quality of life.
Here are some of the most important lifestyle changes you can make:
- Restrict sodium. Too much salt contributes to water retention, which makes your heart work harder. It can also cause shortness of breath and swollen legs, ankles and feet. A common recommendation for healthy adults is between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day. Talk to your doctor about the amount of salt that's best for you.
- Limit fats and cholesterol. Limit your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. A diet high in fat and cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), which often causes or contributes to HF. BlueChoice HealthPlan also has a program for this condition called Great Expectations® for Heart Disease.
- Limit alcohol and fluids. Too much alcohol can weaken your heart or cause your heart to beat abnormally, and may worsen HF. Alcohol also may not mix well with some medications used to treat heart conditions. Your doctor may advise you to stop drinking if you have HF. If you have severe heart failure, your doctor also may suggest you limit your intake of fluids.
- Exercise. Exercise was once forbidden for people with heart failure. But now we know that moderate exercise may benefit people with HF, because it helps your heart pump better, reducing the demands on your heart muscle. Before you start any exercise program, talk to your doctor about what’s safe and healthy for you.
- Stop smoking. Smoking damages your blood vessels, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and makes your heart beat faster. For help quitting smoking, check out the resources available through Great Expectations® for Tobacco Cessation.
- Weigh yourself. Do this each morning after you've used the bathroom, but before you've had breakfast. Notify your doctor if you experience a rapid weight gain of two to five pounds within one week. It may mean that you're retaining fluids and need a change in your treatment plan.
- Manage your stress. When you're anxious or upset, your heart beats faster and you breathe more heavily. This can make heart failure worse, since your heart is already having trouble meeting the body's demands.
- Pace yourself. While you can still do many of the things you used to do, it’s important to balance activity with rest periods. To give your heart a rest, try napping or putting your feet up when possible.
- Take your medication. It’s very important you follow your doctor’s orders about your medication. Remember the three "rights" — right medicine, right time, right dose.
- Learn your heart attack risk.
To enroll in a Great Expecations® program or for more information about health coaching and access to helpful resources, log in to My Health Toolkit and select Health and Wellness then Health Coaching. You can also call us at 855-838-5897.
Other Helpful Links
American Heart Association - The American Heart Association is an independent organization that provides health information on behalf of BlueChoice HealthPlan.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is an independent organization that provides health information content on behalf of BlueChoice HealthPlan.
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