If you have heart failure, you must be able to recognise the early warning signs and symptoms of the condition worsening, as well as what to do if any changes occur. You might wonder: Should you simply call your doctor if a change occurs? Or do you need to go straight to a hospital? Knowing what to do and when can be difficult, and if you don't have a plan in place, it can be stressful. Everyone with heart failure does indeed have a plan in place to help them care for themselves at home.

Q- What is Heart Failure Action Plan?

A heart failure action plan or self-check plan provides clear instructions for you and your caregivers to follow should any new signs or symptoms develop. You and your doctor can work together to create a plan that is tailored to your unique type and class of heart failure, as well as your functional abilities.

Understanding your Zones in Heart Failure Plan

A typical plan may fall into three zones: 

Green Zone- Stable. You don't have any noticeable changes in heart failure signs or symptoms. Your weight is stable. You don't have chest pain or shortness of breath. Continue your daily weight checks and treatment plan as recommended. Ask your doctor for your target weight. Yellow Zone- Warning. Call your doctor if you have a new cough, shortness of breath with activity, increased swelling in your legs or feet, or if you suddenly gain 2 to 5 pounds within a week. You don't necessarily need an office visit but caution is needed. You may just need diet or medication changes.Red Zone- If you have heart failure and gain more than 5 pounds in a week, are unable to lie flat, have shortness of breath at rest, increased swelling and discomfort in the lower body, or have a persistent, hacking cough, go to the emergency hospital or phone your local emergency number.

Also, be sure to tell your doctor if you are feeling sad or depressed. It may be tough to keep to your action plan and overall treatment if you are depressed. Proper treatment may help you feel better.

Please watch the below video on " Heart Failure Action Plan"

Q- What are the Daily Check a Heart Failure Patient should know?

1. Any weight changes?
  • Weight yourself in the morning 
  • After going to the toilet 
  • Before breakfast 
  • Digital scales are best
Compare daily weight to your target weight. When your heart is at its best, your target weight is your weight without any extra fluid. Your action plan should include your desired weight.
 2. Any Swelling? 
  • Do your rings on your fingers, your socks and shoes feel tighter? 
  • Check one leg for swelling
  • Press firmly into the skin of your ankle, shin and knee with your finger
  • If your finger makes a dent in your skin, you have swelling
3. Any changes in your breathing?
  • More short of breath than usual? 
  • Constant cough or wheeze
  • Having difficulty carrying on a conversation? 
  • Increasing the number of pillows you sleep with at night to avoid becoming out of breath or having to sleep upright?

If you notice any changes in your weight, edoema, or breathing, respond fast and stick to your heart failure treatment plan. Click here for a Heart Failure Action Plan. 

References- 1. My Heart Failure Action Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://hnc.org.au/winter-strategy-2020/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/20170709-Heart-Failure-Action-Plan-Template-2nd amendmentjg.pdf#:~:text=1%20My%20Heart%20Failure%20Action%20Plan.%202%20If

2. What is a heart failure action plan? (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/expert-answers/heart-failure-action-plan/faq-20433731