A doctor checks her patient's heart.

Heart Disease vs. Heart Failure

Heart & Vascular

Heart disease affects millions of Americans. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. Heart disease encompasses many different conditions that affect the heart.

One complication of heart disease is congestive heart failure, a common condition affecting over 26 million people nationwide. It can cause significant morbidity, increased mortality, and result in frequent hospitalizations or worsening symptoms if it’s not well-controlled. Bayhealth Interventional Cardiologist Roberto Scaffidi, MD, has a few simple rules that can help you stay healthy and out of the hospital.

1. Weigh yourself every day. If your weight goes up more than three pounds in one day or more than five pounds in a week, you need to call your doctor. Remember, weight gain is usually the first thing that happens, even before shortness of breath comes on or gets worse.

2. Look for swelling in your legs. As with weight gain, leg swelling frequently occurs before shortness of breath.

3. Restrict your fluid intake. In general, you want to stay under 50 ounces of total fluid per day. That includes water, juice, coffee, tea, soda, or anything else in liquid form.

4. Restrict your salt intake. Try to stay under 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day. That means you should read the labels and keep track of how much sodium is in the food you eat. Avoid store-bought foods, take-out food, and restaurant food. Most importantly, don’t use salt. This includes things like soy sauce and a common seafood seasoning because they are high in sodium as well.

5. Take your medication as directed. Don’t miss any doses. If you frequently forget to take your medication, get a pill box and set an alarm to make sure you don’t miss any doses.

Several different factors can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all play a part, as well as diet and exercise. While these can be controlled, other risk factors can’t be, including age, sex, ethnicity and family history.

If you are vigilant and mindful of these things, you’ll stay healthy and out of the hospital.

Visit Bayhealth.org/Cardiovascular to learn more about Bayhealth heart and vascular services.