If you have heart failure, you need to know how to quickly spot the early warning signs and symptoms of worsening disease and 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 challenging and may be overwhelming if you don't have a strategy in place. everyone with heart failure have an action plan to help guide their self-care 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. Together you and your doctor can customize a plan that's best for your specific type and class of heart failure and 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- Danger. Go to the emergency room or call your local emergency number if you have heart failure and have a weight gain of more than 5 pounds in a week, an inability to lie flat, shortness of breath at rest, increased swelling and discomfort in the lower body, or a constant, hacking cough.

Also, be sure to tell your doctor if you are feeling sad or depressed. Depression may make it difficult to stick to your action plan and overall treatment. 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. Target weight is your weight with no extra fluid, when your heart works best. Your target weight should be written on your action plan.

 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? 
  • Using more pillows at night to avoid being short of breath or having to sleep upright?

If you have any changes in your weight, any swelling or changes in your breathing then act quickly and follow your heart failure action 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