CHSS Advice Line
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Heart failure is a condition where the heart muscle is weakened, meaning it cannot pump blood around your body as efficiently as before.
The severity and causes of heart failure mean that it is unlikely to be completely cured. However, careful monitoring, medication and communication with your healthcare team can help you to manage the condition, reduce your symptoms, and live longer.
Heart failure occurs as a result of a number of conditions, the most common being:
Heart failure can present in lots of different ways, and these may change over time. Typical symptoms of heart failure are:
If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor.
May has been living with heart failure since 2013 after suffering a series of major heart attacks. She says: “I knew I had to get to hospital. It wasn’t a case of we’ll go in the morning. I had to, because I just couldn’t breathe.”
To diagnose heart failure, your doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and do some initial tests. These may include:
If you doctor thinks that you may have heart failure, they may require further tests to confirm their diagnosis or look for alternatives.
Heart failure treatment will relieve your symptoms and make your heart stronger, improving your quality of life.
There are many different treatment options available, including medication, implanted devices, or surgery.
Your doctor will discuss the options with you, and help you decide which is best. This choice will be based on the severity of your condition, your symptoms, other conditions you may have, and the potential side effects that you may face. You should always feel able to ask questions or clarify anything that you are not sure about.
Worrying about how to manage your condition or concerned about the wellbeing of a loved one?
Our Advice Line nurses are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about heart failure. Call 0808 801 0899 for free, confidential advice and support.
Contact the Advice Line
When faced with a diagnosis like heart failure, it is natural and understandable to feel worried or isolated. We recommend that you have somebody with you at home for a few days or at least on the other end of the phone while you come to terms with your condition and treatment.
Make sure to look after yourself as much as possible. Cut down on salt, limit your alcohol intake, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and control your blood pressure where possible. Make sure that every day you stay active and support your own mental health and wellbeing – getting outside for a walk is great for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Stay in touch with your doctor and let them know if you notice any new or worsening symptoms. If you are suffering with side effects, speak to your doctor about alternative treatments or options to make you more comfortable.
If you are feeling anxious, stressed, frustrated, or scared, know that you are not alone. A heart failure diagnosis can be massively disruptive and it’s understandable to struggle to come to terms with it. Try not to bottle up your feelings – speak to somebody you trust, keep a journal if that helps, and allow yourself to be honest about worries, fears, and distress. Support is available from your friends and family, from your medical team, and from organisations like CHSS.
To find out more about how to manage your condition and live well at home, read our Mental Wellbeing advice.
Life after a heart failure diagnosis can look very different, and you may feel unsure of the road ahead.
You can still live a life that you love and enjoy – and we’d like to help you.
Visit our Living with a Heart Condition section for more information about how to manage your condition at home, how to stay well and how to rebuild your future.
You can make sure people with chest, heart or stroke in conditions Scotland get the support they need after returning home from hospital.
If you – or someone you know – needs help right now, we’re here for you.
Read our Essential Guides for more information.
Download our booklet Living with Heart Failure to find out more about the topics discussed on this page.
View this page
Download Your Heart Toolkit for advice and information about living with a heart condition.
Visit our Services page to find out more about the support that’s available after a heart failure diagnosis
This page was last updated on May 2, 2023 and is under regular review. If you feel anything is missing or incorrect, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to provide feedback.