Tips for fighting fatigue of congestive heart failure 

Tips for fighting fatigue of congestive heart failure 

If you’re one of the 5.8 million Americans feeling tired and fatigued from heart failure, you’re not alone.  It is a common phenomenon which can lead to excessive tiredness, shortness of breath and a feeling of being worn out.  Heart failure is also known as congestive heart failure.  It occurs when fluid builds up in various parts of the body making it a common reason why people 65 and older have to be admitted into the hospital.

The term “heart failure” is really kind of scary.  The word failure means breaking down, not functioning or collapse. To say our heart has failed is like saying it has stopped beating, but that of course is not true.  A better way to think of it is the heart is not working like it should or at its best.


Symptoms of heart failure develop slowly over time.  It’s a sign the heart is becoming weaker losing the ability to pump blood your body needs. This can cause two major problems for the body: (1) the tissues and organs don’t get enough oxygen, and (2) fluid builds up in the lungs and tissues.  Because of a weakened heart, feeling fatigued is not unusual.

How to fight fatigue from heart failure

While heart failure can leave a person more tired than usual, the good news is many with this condition are thriving as they fight heart failure fatigue along the way. It is possible to bring back more energy during the day with simple lifestyle modifications.  Always consult with your doctor about what’s right for you before attempting to make changes.  If you’re given the go-ahead, here are several tips on fighting fatigue helping you regain more energy to live an active and improved quality of life.

·      Take power naps

Yes, naps do a body good. No one says taking a mid-afternoon siesta is out of the question. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends naps when you are feeling tired and worn down.  A 30-60 minute nap can do wonders for restoring back energy as it gives your heart a much needed rest. Be sure to set your alarm limiting naps to avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep schedule.

·      Use exercise to energize yourself

We’ve heard it before – exercise most days if not all days of the week.  Yet, you may wonder if I get winded just cleaning house, how am I going to be able to exercise? It can be done but do discuss this with your doctor first before starting an exercise regimen. It’s recommended to ease yourself into becoming more physically active. Start by sitting less throughout the day.  When you find yourself sitting for long stretches during the day, stand up for a while to build up stamina.  Gradually work your way up to taking a short five-minute walk in your home. Eventually build up to longer stretches of movement of 10 minutes or more.  Take time to stretch before exercising, preparing your body for exercise and do the same after your physical activity is done.

·      Eat a heart healthy diet

Likely your doctor has advised you to follow a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and legumes while reducing your intake of highly processed foods containing too much sugar, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and alcohol. In other words, choose minimally processed foods while staying away from cookies, crackers, candy, pastries, pizza, and highly processed meats such as bologna, sausage, hot dogs, salami or bacon.

To sustain energy throughout the day, be sure to eat three meals a day – avoid skipping meals.  Choose snacks that are rich in protein and fiber, such as low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, or fruit with string cheese.

·      Recharge your mental health

While congestive heart failure primarily affects you physically, evidence suggests a link between mental health and heart health. When depression, anxiety, and stress are treated, this can help improve your physical symptoms associated with heart failure, including fatigue. When these symptoms are addressed, you likely will sleep better providing more energy to tackle day-to-day activities. In addition, you’ll have more motivation and energy to exercise and eat healthy.

Other ways to improve mental health by managing stress is using calming techniques such as yoga or meditation. Each of these can do wonders for bringing more peace and joy into your life.

·      Get a better night’s sleep

There is nothing quite as invigorating and energy-boosting as a good night’s sleep.  When you sleep, your body is recharging itself for the next day. It’s important to follow a regular bedtime routine, telling your body to unwind for the day. Everyone is different, but try going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier, stay off technology at least 60 minutes before bedtime, sleep in a completely darkened and cool room (set thermostat between 60-67 degrees). Your mattress also makes a huge difference in how well you are sleeping. A bed that is too soft or too hard can make it difficult to get enough shut-eye.

Keep fighting fatigue of congestive heart failure

You can fight back fatigue of congestive heart failure. Once you’ve been given the green light from your doctor, begin to incorporate these solutions giving you back your day free from fatigue. Be aware that while there can still be days when you will feel overcome with tiredness, keep the fight up. Over time, the more you practice these tips, you’ll discover what works helping to take back your life with increased vim and vigor.